By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO July 29, 2003 As Sullivan County grows, certain challenges are in evidence, chief among them being transportation. For some, especially in the more rural areas of the county, it is difficult to travel to places to shop and work.
A meeting on that very topic was held at the Sullivan County Government Center in the Legislative Hearing Room on Monday, July 21. The gathering was hosted by County Manager Dan Briggs, the Sullivan County Visitors Association (SCVA), Coach USA/Shortline, and Sullivan County Transportation.
The purpose: to discuss how to improve transportation throughout the county. Representatives from many of the towns in the county were on hand to offer their input.
We want to network public transportation, Briggs commented. We want to know from you where to put bus stops. People need to get to and from jobs and shopping centers.
We are looking forward to this opportunity, remarked Coach USA/Shortline representative Christine Falzone. We have revised the schedule. We have a dual purpose to better serve those who live and visit here. This is a good step.
Additionally, 90 percent of the funding is federal and state, stated Sullivan County Health and Family Services Commissioner Gregory Feicht.
For the last few years, Feicht has served as acting Transportation Director. A new Transportation Director (who was not publicly named) will start full time August 4.
With that money, we can construct signs, stops, and shelters, Feicht continued. There is good service in Liberty, Monticello, and Fallsburg. We have limited service elsewhere.
Feicht reported that creating new routes is not cheap. In fact, they can cost between $100,000 and $130,000. Officials would attempt to find subsidies to lower that figure.
Falzone pointed out that the local routes do not make money for the bus companies. What sustains them, she said, are the long trips to New York City and Binghamton. She suggested that the county should work with Ulster and Orange counties as a way to eliminate the problems of county lines and share funding. If they work together, the funding could be split, and the project would cost each municipality less.
We are looking to be progressive, Briggs said. The population is growing each year. In the summer, we have between 250,000 and 300,000 people here. We have to relieve congestion. We have to make it easier for people to get from Point A to Point B.
With that, the town representatives were asked for their input. The towns that attended Lumberland, Bethel, Rockland, Thompson, Fallsburg, and Cochecton were open to expansion, but not all could share costs.
Lumberland is heavily growing, remarked Lumberland Supervisor John LiGreci. Lumberland has grown 38 percent two years in a row. We would support this.
We would like to see the summer run go year-round, commented Cochecton Supervisor Salvatore Indelicato. But we will not fund it. There are developers looking at our town. We will talk to them.
We would like to see you extend the route in our community, Rockland Supervisor Patricia Pomeroy stated. We are in favor of it in residential areas. We will put up signs on town property. We are growing.
We need signage with times on them, Thompson Board Member Stewart Peppy Satenstein said. The [bus] trolley is great. We need service by the old Burger King and the old ShopRite. Also, the trolley should go down Route 42 for summer school and the housing complexes there.
The SCVA has begun to market the bus routes. To that end, they created Sully, an eagle that is the programs symbol and will appear on all schedules and in print and radio ads.
The organizers thanked all who participated. They plan to come up with more ideas and present them publicly in the next few months.