In order to close a $78 million deficit, Suffolk County plans to institute bus changes that will affect Stony Brook’s main and Southampton campuses.
Bus routes S71 – which brings main campus students to Stony Brook Hospital, the Stony Brook University Railroad and Brookhaven Town Hall – 10A, S35, S90, 1B, 5A, 7D/E and 10D/E have been proposed to be eliminated because of countywide budget cuts, according to Suffolk County Deputy Commissioner Darnell Tyson. The possible eliminations will not go into effect until Oct. 3.
Suffolk County conducted an internal and external analysis of the 53 bus routes and determined the eight most expensive per-rider routes. The cuts will save the county $4 million a year. These routes proportionally served the least amount of customers – approximately 400 out of the 20,000 people a day who use bus services.
“The goal was to minimize, to get the most benefit for the least inconvenience,” Tyson said.
In addition, Suffolk County bus S60 and the University’s Outer Loop bus relocated stops formerly on the west side of Stadium Road to the east side directly across the road from the infirmary. These buses will no longer stop at the Stony Brook Student Union.
New transit maps have been made and can be found on the Stony Brook Transit website.
The railroad and hospital can still be reached using other buses such as the S69, 3D and S60 along with university buses. Stony Brook students who live in Brookhaven Residential Village will not be affected because of the North Fork Express Transit Service, which is provided by the university to get Brookhaven residents to campus.
Other route changes will affect Stony Brook students more critically. On the Suffolk County Transit System map, route 10A is shown to be the only Suffolk County bus that stops at the Southampton campus.
The elimination of bus route 10A will leave Stony Brook Southampton students no bus alternative to get to the village of Southampton, Southampton Hospital or Sag Harbor.
Transportation services on the Stony Brook Southampton website list two other services, Bolt Bus and Hampton Jitney. Bolt Bus does not list Southampton campus as a destination, and Hampton Jitney is a tour bus booking website. Neither substitutes the services provided by bus route 10A.
While there is a shuttle bus between Stony Brook’s main campus and the Southampton campus, without bus route 10A, getting to other locations will become an issue.
“Our Government and Community Relations office is heading up an effort to address the elimination of the Suffolk bus routes,” said Connell Friel, the director of transportation and parking operations.
There will be two hearings, one on Sept. 8 in Riverhead and one on Sept. 9 in Smithtown, to discuss questions and concerns of the bus route proposal. More information regarding the hearings can be found on the Suffolk County Transportation website.
S60 and the Outer Loop are also being rerouted due to the creation of a new pedestrian mall around the Union, according to an email sent out by Friel.
A heavy increase in student foot traffic around the Student Union is expected as a result of the new Chávez Hall and the East Side Dining facility being built between Mendelsohn Quad and Toll Drive.
Sonia Garrido, a university communications manager, relayed that this new pedestrian mall was established with the intention of preventing possible accidents.
“Stadium Road will be gated as of the first day of classes thus rerouting all traffic away from this area,” Garrido said in an email.
Garrido assured that commuters who park in Stadium lots will not be affected by the pedestrian zone.
“The Stadium lots’ gate will be located further south, closer to Toll drive, without limiting access to the parking lots,” she said.
Stony Brook students have mixed feelings about the changes. Matthew Loyd, a sophomore anthropology major, approves of the “fresh and new” pedestrian mall.
“Anything that promotes social interaction in any way is a pleasant thing to have,” Loyd said.
However, Rudgerry Robert, a junior engineering science major, thinks that while a pedestrian mall would be a nice place to hang out, it will create crowds.
“The mall itself would also draw a crowd,” he said. “It could also make it harder to walk through that area, especially for those living in H or Mendy.”
Jonathan Lichtenfeld, a sophomore aspiring computer science major, thinks that a pedestrian mall is not necessary for student safety. He said the enforcement of stop signs would do a better job of increasing student safety.
“I’ve had more than one experience where cars tend to not stop and almost hit students,” Lichtenfeld said. “I think the pedestrian mall is something that sounds good on paper but in practice might not be that good of an idea.”