Featured Story
02/03/16 9:00am
02/03/2016 9:00 AM

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The Long Island Railroad parking lots near the North Ferry dock in Greenport are free to use and do not feature any time restrictions.

But that could soon change under a proposal Greenport Village Trustees have approved and sent to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for consideration. READ

Featured Story
01/17/16 6:00am
01/17/2016 6:00 AM

8TH PROPOSAL OF GOVERNOR CUOMO'S 2016 AGENDA: BRING THE MTA INTO THE 21ST CENTURY TO DRAMATICALLY IMPROVE THE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE FOR MILLIONS OF NEW YORKERS AND VISITORS

As part of the buildup to his State of the State address and budget presentation Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed a variety of initiatives last week designed to aid Long Island in a variety of ways.

Those plans include spending more than $1 billion to reinvigorate the area’s transportation infrastructure and protect local environments. For the most part, however, the East End seems to be left out of the mix. READ

08/19/14 4:00pm
08/19/2014 4:00 PM
LIRR

LIRR riders board an eastbound train out of Riverhead last summer. (Credit: Steve Rossin, file)

Due to construction projects and track repairs, buses will be replacing Long Island Rail Road trains running between Ronkonkoma and Greenport beginning Sept. 2 and ending Nov. 16, the MTA announced.

The buses will replace four weekday trains — two eastbound and two westbound — between the two train stops while ties are replaced and grade crossings are restored.  (more…)

07/26/14 2:00pm
07/26/2014 2:00 PM
Fireboat Fire Fighter is mooring at the railroad dock. (Katherine Schroeder file photo)

The former FDNY fireboat Fire Fighter, now a floating museum, will likely remain at the Long Island Rail Road dock in Greenport if a measure to cede control to the village is approved Tuesday by the Suffolk County Legislature. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

In what’s being called a win-win for both parties, Suffolk County is poised to give up oversight of the Railroad Dock on Third Street and let Greenport Village deal directly with the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which owns the property. (more…)

04/22/14 3:00pm
04/22/2014 3:00 PM
The North Ferry line down Wiggins Street in Greenport. (Credit: Ambrose Clancy, file)

Cars waiting in line on Wiggins Street in Greenport for the North Ferry to Shelter Island. (Credit: Ambrose Clancy, file)

 A pilot plan is in the works to reroute traffic for the North Ferry in Greenport.

Greenport Village Mayor David Nyce has been speaking with local state officials for several months about a plan to redirect ferry lines on the village side to help ease traffic congestion. !–more–>

So far, the proposal has been stalled, as the village waits for approval from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to use the land it owns behind the East End Seaport Museum as a staging area for cars waiting to board the ferry.

To help expedite things, the mayor said the village is in the process of drafting a letter to the MTA requesting a test run of the proposed traffic flow changes before either party commits to entering a lease agreement that would allow the village to use the MTA property.

Mr. Nyce said there is no timeframe on when, or if, the new traffic plan would be in place because the MTA would need to finalize any decision on the land’s use.

The plan to reroute traffic is meant to fix a 21st century problem, according to village officials.

Vehicles access the ferry by turning south down Sixth Street from Route 25 onto Route 114 and then following that to Wiggins Street.

However, GPS devices direct drivers south onto Third Street from Front Street in the village, resulting in occasional tempers to flare from drivers waiting on line from Wiggins Street.  It can also result in a traffic backup on Third Street that sometimes spills over onto Front Street.

In the meantime, the ferry’s staff occasionally serves as traffic directors on the Greenport side.

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08/02/13 7:00pm
08/02/2013 7:00 PM
LIRR

STEVE ROSSIN PHOTO | LIRR riders board an train out of Riverhead about 1:30 p.m. last week.

The Long Island Rail Road will extend its summer schedule on the Greenport to Ronkonkoma line by 10 weeks, stretching into November, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said.

The Long Island Rail Road, through its parent company, the MTA,  has been discontinuing all weekend service between Greenport and Ronkonkoma after Columbus Day and before Memorial Day since 2010.

Summer service, as it’s now called, will now begin in April and end in November, said LIRR spokesman Sal Arena.

After November, there will again be no weekend service between Greenport and Ronkonkoma, he said.

“The MTA was able to identify additional money, revenue from dedicated state taxes as well as internal cost-savings, that could be used to enhance train service and other customer amenities,” Mr. Arena said. “The LIRR is making a number of improvements with its share of that money, including the extension of weekend service on the North Fork.

“It made this decision based on customer demand and specifically to expend service to the fall harvest period, an important tourist season for the region.”

About seven years ago, the LIRR was considering discontinuing service between Greenport and Ronkonkoma altogether, but backed off that plan.

“This service investment shows that the MTA and LIRR are committed to expanding and improving service to the East End,” South Fork state Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) said of the move.

Mr. Thiele has been an advocate for increasing train service on the East End, and one of the projects he has touted also got some money from the MTA. A proposal to establish a network of smaller “scoot” trains between Greenport and Ronkonkoma, as well as in other areas on Long Island, received $37.2 million from the state.

Currently, the LIRR is exploring the possibility of diesel-powered Scoot service on the Oyster Bay Branch and on the Main Line east of Ronkonkoma, Mr. Arena said.

The $37.2 million funding for such a purchase is in the current (2010-2014) MTA Capital Program, and will remain available even if it is not expended by the end of 2014, Mr. Arena said.

“Scoot” is a railroad industry term used to describe a train that would shuttle regularly between the first and last stops on a particular branch or branch segment, according to Mr. Arena.

Currently, the LIRR runs only about two trains per day in each directions between Greenport and Riverhead on weekends in the summer, and about three trains per day between Greenport and Riverhead during weekdays, prompting calls from East End residents and officials for better service.

“As envisioned by the LIRR, scoot service would allow for more frequent train service than currently provided,” Mr. Arena said. It “would encourage intra-branch and intra-Island travel, but also would require a transfer to electric trains for those traveling on to New York City.

“The LIRR is currently looking for alternate (smaller) diesel trains that would be more cost-effective to operate and maintain, as compared with both the LIRR’s existing diesel fleet and with electric trains.”

The LIRR does not have specific timeline or start date for either purchasing the alternate diesel fleet and/or initiating expanded Scoot service for East of Ronkonkoma, he said.

“The scoot train could be much smaller to than the standard 10 or 12 car consist,” Mr. Arena said, “perhaps just one, two cars or three coach cars, depending on demand.”

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08/23/12 12:00pm
08/23/2012 12:00 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | A state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday controversial Metropolitan Transit Authority payroll tax is unconstitutional.

Local lawmakers are celebrating this morning following a state Supreme Court decision Wednesday calling the controversial Metropolitan Transit Authority payroll tax unconstitutional.

Many legislators have challenged the fairness of the tax since its inception, claiming that eastern Long Island receives paltry service from the MTA. Approved in 2009, the tax imposed a .34 percent levy on payroll for all employers, including schools and governments, in New York City and the seven surrounding suburban counties.

In June 2011, the state Senate, which has a narrow Republican majority, passed a bill to repeal the MTA payroll tax, but the legislation didn’t pass in the Democratically dominated Assembly.

Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), who sponsored a bill to have Suffolk join Nassau County’s lawsuit, described the recent decision as “wonderful.”

“This is an illegal tax never that should never have been imposed,” Mr. Romaine said Thursday morning on his way to Mineola for a press conference about the court’s ruling.

Mr. Romaine called the MTA payroll tax “wrong, morally and legally” because East End service was cut after the tax was imposed. Since that time, Mr. Romaine said the tax has cost Suffolk County $10 million and $150 million for small businesses in the county

Mr. Romaine said although he’s pleased with the court’s recent decision, he believes the fight isn’t over because the next step would be local municipalities and business owners getting reimbursed from paying the tax over the past few years.

MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said in a statement the MTA will “vigorously appeal” the decision.

“We believe this opinion will be overturned, since four prior challenges to the constitutionality of the law making the same argument have been dismissed,” he said.

State Assemblyman Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham) said Thursday he’s “thrilled” about the decision and believes it will be upheld upon appeal.

“Myself and my colleagues have been fighting this egregious tax and I think [the decision] is certainly a step toward its complete removal,” Mr. Losquadro said.

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06/05/12 9:00am
06/05/2012 9:00 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | State Senator Ken LaValle voted in favor Monday of exempting libraries from the MTA payroll tax.

The state Senate passed legislation Monday to exempt libraries from the controversial Metropolitan Transit Authority payroll tax.

Approved in 2009, the tax currently imposes a .21 percent levy on payroll for employers, including schools and governments in Suffolk County with payrolls above $1.25 million.

The new legislation aims to help libraries meet the needs of their communities since library usage has increased by 11 percent since 2007 while state funding for libraries has declined by 23 percent, according to the bill.

Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said in a press release that he supported the legislation sponsored by fellow Long Island Republican Jack Martins.

“Repealing the tax would save libraries in the downstate MTA region $1.3 million annually,” Mr. LaValle said.

Now that the bill has passed in the Senate, where Republicans have a narrow majority, it has been introduced in the Democratically dominated Assembly.

In January, the Senate passed a bill co-sponsored by Mr. LaValle to repeal the MTA payroll tax for certain small businesses, public and private schools and other entities with payrolls under $1.25 million.

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