Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) which will include town police forces from the 5 East End Towns in the existing 20 year LIRR no-fare program for police officers.
For the increased protection and improved safety of commuters and employees, after the 1993 Long Island Railroad massacre, the State Legislature created a program that provides free transportation on the Long Island Rail Road (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 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 could no longer allow these police officers to participate in the LIRR Free Police Ride Program. The LIRR indicated its support for amending the statute to add police officers employed by the towns in Suffolk County. This legislation corrects this oversight by granting 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. The presence of police officers in our train stations and on the trains is a welcome sight at a time when transportation hubs remain a target for violence and terrorism. This program is needed now more than ever.”