Suffolk's new Sunday bus service on the East End has gotten off to an impressive start, according to county Legis. Jay Schneiderman, who said ridership on some runs this year is exceeding last year's by nearly 50 percent.
The buses, which operate from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, are busiest in the early morning and late in the day. Schneiderman (I-Montauk) said it means the buses are being used by people going to work and coming back home.
"I wasn't expecting it to go up over last year. I expected it to be about the same," said Schneiderman, who pushed for additional bus service for years. "It's not a small jump, it's a large jump."
He said the extra ridership shows that the East End's recreational economy appears to have made a substantial recovery. "Out here in Montauk, the bookings seem very strong, and the restaurants and clubs are packed," Schneiderman added.
Bus service on the East End routes costs $2.25 -- a quarter more than in the rest of the county -- with the extra money helping to cover the cost of the Sunday bus service. It began as an experiment in 2011 and was expanded to run from Memorial Day to Columbus Day last year.
The busiest route, S-92, runs from Orient Point to East Hampton, with a few of its buses starting at the Greenport railroad station. Ridership increased to 498 this year from 415 last Memorial Day, to 539 on the first Sunday in June from 386, and to 607 on the second Sunday in June, from 415.
The first Sunday bus leaves Greenport at 6:15 a.m. and arrives at the East Hampton railroad station at 8:15 a.m. The last bus leaves East Hampton at 5:40 p.m. and ends its run in Greenport at 7:40 p.m.
Schneiderman said county officials are working on ways of expanding Sunday service to other bus routes, and hope to be able to expand the East End bus service as well, if funds can be found through grants. "The biggest complaints we get are that the buses don't run late enough," he said.