Huntington Area Rapid Transit (HART) buses will be fare-free for two weeks later this month, a move town officials hopes encourages residents to consider the town transit system as an alternative to driving their cars.
The weeks of free fare span Monday, Sept. 21 through Saturday, Sept. 26, and again on Monday, Sept. 28 through Saturday, Oct. 3. There will be no fare charged on HART’s fixed route buses, according to a town spokesperson. The promotion is being held in coordination with International Car Free
Day on Sept. 22. That is an annual event celebrated in more than 1,500 cities in 40 countries during which people are encouraged to get around without cars, using alternate transportation such as transit, biking or carpooling.
Locally, Car Free Day Long Island will be celebrated for the third consecutive year under the auspices of Transit Solutions and 511NYRideshare, who are partnering with the town in presenting the Fare Free Weeks.
The goal of the promotion is to increase ridership on HART, the only town-operated bus system on Long Island.
HART, which has been operating since 1978, revised its routes in January 2013 to adapt to changing demand, improve service and reduce waiting times. This year, HART upgraded its fleet, putting 15 new vehicles into service, including seven 20-passenger clean diesel buses that provide easier maneuverability, greater fuel efficiency and easier passenger access than the 29-passenger vehicles they replaced. HART also has three hybrid buses that are part of the fixed-route service.
“Over its 35 years in existence, HART has developed a loyal, devoted ridership, composed of people who appreciate the ability to get from place to place in the Town without having to use a car,” Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said in the statement. “We hope that Fare Free Weeks will prompt new riders to give HART a try, learn for themselves what great service HART provides and become frequent riders after the promotion ends.”
The Huntington Town Board authorized Fare Free Weeks in a resolution it approved unanimously at its July 14 meeting. The resolution noted that the town would seek sponsorships to offset the lost passenger revenue.
Petrone and his Town Board colleagues expressed their appreciation to these businesses and organizations that have agreed to become Fare Free Weeks sponsors: Covanta Energy; Stop & Shop; Target; The Paramount; Renaissance Downtowns; Clever Devices; the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce; and the Huntington Station Business Improvement District.
“HART bus is one of those unique services the town provides, giving people who don’t have cars, including teenagers, the mobility they need for their daily activities,” Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said in a statement. “But HART also provides an opportunity for car owners to get around town and, as the old Greyhound commercial used to say, leave the driving to us, especially if the ride is free.”
Rosemary Mascali, the manager of Transit Solutions and co-chair of the Car Free Day Long Island event, lauded the fare-free initiative.
“We’re thrilled to see the Town of Huntington join in the international celebration of Car Free Day by providing a free ride on HART buses during these two Fare Free Weeks,” Mascali said. “This puts the town at the leading edge of Long Island municipalities in their efforts to encourage residents to try a commute alternative.”
The free rides are available only on fixed route service. Paratransit is unaffected by the promotion. For details on routes and schedules, riders can visit the HART Bus page on the town’s website, http://www.huntingtonny.gov.