With a Long Island Rail Road strike expected Sunday, the region’s major private transit company is stepping up to help fill the void for those needing to travel between the North Fork and New York City.
The privately-owned Hampton Jitney, based in Southampton, which runs buses to and from the East End and New York City, will be adding about 20 more buses in the event of a train strike, said Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter.
Hampton Jitney will be entering into a free, short-term lease of the vacant Armory property with Riverhead Town so that the company can store the extra buses. Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said Hampton Jitney also plans to seek additional passenger parking near its existing bus stops, which are near private parking lots.
“Hampton Jitney is making strike plans for the East End of Long Island, which is good, to see a private company doing that,” he said.
Hampton Jitney president Geoff Lynch could not be reached for comment.
MTA officials said last year an average of 121 people ride the rails between Greenport and Ronkonkoma on any given weekday.
Phillip Beltz, Southold Town’s special projects coordinator, said the hours at which the trains arrive and depart in Southold Town almost make the LIRR strike “irrelevant” for Southold.
He also said the town hasn’t been asked for assistance by the LIRR or by any private companies like Hampton Jitney.
An LIRR strike, which last happened in 1994, would not affect other MTA operations, such as the New York City subways and MTA tunnels and bridges.
Because of this, MTA plans to offer bus shuttles from eight select LIRR stations to three New York City Subway stations. Only Ronkonkoma and Deer Park stations are planned for shuttles in Suffolk County, and the buses will take passengers to the Willits Points (Mets stadium) and Woodhaven Boulevard stations in Queens.
But these shuttles will only run on weekdays during peak hours, and only in the peak direction, towards the city in the morning and out of the city at night.
The buses will only accommodate about 15,000 of the 300,000 passengers that ride the LIRR daily, according to the MTA. The bus service from Ronkonkoma and Deer Park will run from 4 to 7 a.m. inbound and from 3 to 7 p.m. outbound, according to the MTA.
The MTA and the LIRR unions are said to be far apart in their negotiations, according to published reports.
The MTA and state Department of Transportation have also prepared a network of additional carpool lots at various state parks and LIRR rail stations. A website has been set up identifying these sites.
Should a strike occur, the DOT would also require cars in the HOV lanes on the Long Island Expressway to carry at least three people, instead of the current two, in an attempt to increase carpooling during a strike.