The South Fork Commuter Connection came to an end this week and we are dismayed to hear that the future of the commuter train service may rely on the analysis of just one school year of ridership. This, during a time on the East End, and across the United States, when people have a desperate need for real mass transportation solutions to combat growing oil prices, a struggling economy, increasing traffic and the looming environmental crisis of global warming.
Global warming aside, residents on the East End — those who commute to work like many of us, some from over an hour away — should have a substantive option for transportation that does not require filling up at the pump to the tune of $80 a week. In a time of real need for many families, especially on the East End, an increasingly expensive place to call home or to hang your hat at a place of business, we would hope our town, county, state and federal officials commit to taking this initial baby step another year forward.
If we are going to be serious about providing mass transit on the East End then we need to create a serious, educated way to study whether the South Fork Commuter Connection serves enough riders to prove it is something meaningful to continue. How can we consider the inaugural year as one that would paint a clear picture of the numbers of East End employees that would take advantage of this service?
With the price of oil, and therefore the price of gas for our cars, breaking records on a weekly basis we would be surprised if more did not take advantage of this service should it resume in the fall. There are already many workers, a number of whom work in Sag Harbor, who rely on this valuable service. If it ends now, when we need it most that would be a shame and a loss of a truly valuable service — not just for residents, but businesses as well who must frequently look further to our west to fill positions.
Now is a time when government should be focused on transportation solutions, as the road ahead is likely to be even moreÂ bumpy, and paved with the reality of the price of oil placing families in difficult economic positions. We urge the extension of the South Fork Commuter Connection and hope that it could become part of larger transportation solution for the entire region.