This week, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has included a $37.2 million expenditure as a part of an amendment to its five-year capital plan to allow for the purchase of smaller diesel trains for the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). The move could pave the way for an East End Shuttle Service transportation plan for the East End, long supported by the Five Towns Rural Transit, Inc.
According to Thiele, in 2009, the MTA included this proposal in its capital plan, but did not identify actual funding for the final three years of the plan. The proposed amendment to the capital plan now funds the entire proposal including the light rail diesel trains.
Governor Cuomo’s proposed 2012 State Budget provides the first installment of funding for the MTA Capital Plan.
The new trains, known as “diesel multiple units” have smaller engines, are lighter, more cost effective, and will travel shorter distances, said Thiele on Monday. The proposed expenditure will permit the LIRR to purchase five of the new trains, which come in sets of two cars. When ridership is heavier, another pair of cars can be attached.
According to the LIRR the new trains could “increase frequency of service, increase reliability, and promote intra-island commuting. The new diesels will be ideal to provide additional service in the non-electrified areas of the LIRR east of Ronkonkoma,” according to Thiele’s office.
The LIRR plans to identify an “off the shelf” model for purchase. If the first fleet of shuttles is successful, the LIRR could purchase more in future years.
“President Helena Williams and MTA Board member Mitch Pally are to be commended for refocusing the plans of the LIRR to include the needs of the under-served East End,” said Thiele in a press release issued on Monday. “With the approval of the shuttle trains and the partial repeal of the MTA payroll tax, we have taken steps to increase service while at the same time reducing the unfair financial burden of the payroll tax.”
“The East End has clamored for increased service through the implementation of an integrated rail and bus shuttle service for the East End including the state-funded Volpe Study, which demonstrated the viability of shuttle trains,” the release continued. “The shuttle was also proven viable when the LIRR provided a successful pilot project during the reconstruction of CR 39. The next step is the purchase of new, lighter, cost-effective shuttle diesels. We are closer than ever to increasing public transportation opportunities for East End residents.’”
“Finally, this new service will mean jobs for the East End tourist and second home industry. Transportation alternatives that make it easier to get here and easier to move from hamlet to hamlet will foster the growth of our local economy.”