On Oct. 3, The Town of Brookhaven will lose five bus routes because of a county-wide budget cut meant to close a $78 million budget gap, town officials said.
The Brookhaven bus routes that will be cut are the 7D North Shirley Loop, the 7E Mastic-Mastic Beach-Shirley Loop, the S71 Shirley to Stony Brook Railroad, the S90 Center Moriches to Riverhead County Center and the 5A Port Jefferson to Middle Island.
President of the Sound Beach Civics Association Bea Ruperto says that her community will lose it’s only bus route, the 5A, and be left with only a limited route that lies far out in the city’s border.
“We went to voice our concerns at a town meetings, but it’s a done deal now,” Ruperto said, referring to the public hearings on Sep. 8 and 9 in Hauppauge and Riverside, where residents spoke out against the bus routes being cut.
Judith Greiman, Stony Brook University’s chief deputy to the president and vice president for government and community relations, also attended the hearing to discuss what the impact will be of losing the S71, which runs through the university.
Greiman began to read statements from a survey she conducted on campus, which included various statements about how students might have to drop out because they would no longer be able to commute to the university.
“A mathematics senior from Mastic Beach said that if the S71 is cut, ‘I would be unable to finish my degree,” Greiman read aloud.
Also at the meeting was Jessica Opatich, another Stony Brook senior who commutes from Centereach. She says that she is losing part of her independence because she will now have to rely on others to give her a ride to school.
“I think it’s disgusting that the county is trying to save money on the backs of its most disenfranchised members,” Opatich said.
She added that when she was riding the bus, she looked around and wondered what all of the riders were going to do when the bus cuts take effect.
Although Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward Romaine supported Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s Connect Long Island plan, which looked to improve transportation in Suffolk, Romaine has voiced his opposition to the closing of the bus routes, calling it foolish and short sighted.
“This is taking a real shot at public infrastructure,” Romaine said. “We’re being short changed.”
Romaine cautioned that these bus cuts, as well as the possible other bus cuts that might be announced during Bellone’s budget cut proposal this Friday, will have lasting effects.
“Once you cut them, they’re not coming back.”