By a vote of 133-5, the New York State Assembly has given final passage to a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) which will include the town police forces in the East End in an existing 20 year Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) no-fare program for police officers.
For the increased protection and improved safety of commuters and employees, after the 1993 LIRR massacre, the State Legislature created a program that provides free transportation on the LIRR for police officers. Police officers employed by the City of New York, the County of Nassau, Nassau County villages and cities, County of Suffolk, Suffolk County villages, the Division of State police, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Metro-North Commuter Railroad Company, the New York City Housing Authority and the New York City Transit Authority were included in this no fare program.
An audit conducted by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), however, revealed an apparent oversight in the provisions of law governing the LIRR's Free Police Ride Program. Police officers employed by the towns within Suffolk County are not included in statute. As a result, the MTA can no longer allow these police officers to participate in the LIRR Free Police Ride Program. The LIRR has indicated its support for amending the statute to add police officers employed by the towns in Suffolk County. This legislation corrects this oversight to grant the MTA the legal authority to extend this program to these officers.
Thiele stated, “In the drafting of this worthy program, the East End town police forces were inadvertently left out, no doubt because there are no town police in western Suffolk or Nassau County. This legislation corrects this oversight. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing and the threat that it represents, the presence of police officers in our train stations and on the trains is a welcome sight. This program is needed now more than ever.”