On LI, Latino Group Runs Transport Service

Alma Tovar, OLA’s transportation advocate, with the minivan purchased by the organization to provide rides to medical appointments for people with no other viable options. (Photo provided to RiverheadLOCAL)

On the East End of Long Island, residents who had difficulty getting to their doctor’s appointments now have a means of transportation thanks to OLA of Eastern Long Island and its transportation advocate Alma Tovar, writes RiverheadLOCAL’s Maria Piedrabuena.

OLA — a non-partisan, nonprofit organization promoting social, economic, cultural and educational development for the East End Latino community since 2002 — is a long-time advocate for better public transportation. Thanks to two anonymous private donations earlier this year, the organization was able to start a limited and part-time free transportation service that helps people from Riverhead to Montauk. With those donations, OLA was able to get a minivan that seats seven and cover the expenses of its operation, hiring Tovar on a part-time basis. She started working in February.

A $20,000 grant from the Southampton Bath and Tennis Foundation will allow OLA to increase the service to four days per week as of mid-September. The need for this service, which is available for all East End residents, brings to light the dearth of public transportation options in the the area.

Viable public transportation has long been a difficult and controversial issue in Suffolk County. The East End is particularly affected due to antiquated bus schedules, frequently late buses, not enough routes or bus stops — often unsheltered — as well as lack of funding. The county cut eight bus routes last year, three of which operated on the South Fork.

Go to RiverheadLOCAL for more on how Latinos are “among those most affected” by the state of local public transportation and how Tovar is compiling data and testimonies from residents to present to local officials as part of a larger fight for viable transportation options in Suffolk County.

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