Long Island Rail Road Transit Adventures

Chipping away at Suffolk County: The train to Northport, a long bus ride down to Islip

This trip I took a month ago on 27 May, 2014. I thought I would provide a narrative update:

I find myself with an-odd gap of time. I get a student rush ticket a little after 10:00am for a show a Lincoln Center that issn’t until 7:30pm. Armed with an about to expire 30-day Unlimited ride MetroCard and no work to do, I decided it was time to get some more on on the Long Island Railroad. A trip out on the Port Jefferson Branch (I’ve never ridden the track the last stop from Sony Brook to Port Jefferson) and had been high on my list for quite some time. The first goal through is a photo stop to finally get Syosset. I think I might be able to catch the E train and just make the 10:58 until I look at the schedule and realize that connects with a Port Jefferson-bound diesel. This would give my a layover of 90 minutes at Syosset that feels unnecessary. I decide I might as well take the bus out to edge of Nassau County and save $3.25. I end up walking to 57 Street and getting on the F train.

I get to Jamaica-179 Street a bit before 11:00 and have to deal with the confusion of figuring out where up on the sidewalk the N22 or the N24 stop to take me out to the island. The N22 comes first (the N24 is only every half-hour) and I take it and get off at Lakeville Road for a perfectly pleasant walk down to the New Hyde Park Station–(9 Photos), where I arrive about 20 minutes before my 12:10 train.

It’s a rather eventful ride. The conductor sees me get get and comes immediately to punch my ticket even though their aren’t any seat checks for this eastbound ride that seems to be standard LIRR policy. There is a group of teenagers with tons of luggage planning to get off at Merrillon Avenue but their still getting there stuff together and are not even in the vestibule before the doors close after a very quick, local stop. I hear them frantically calling “Mom” to pick them up in Mineola, a conductor doesn’t pass in this short time. At Hicksville were held for a few minutes to led a Penn Station-bound train pass. I get off at Syosset(77 Photos) at 12:37 and am happy with my midday timing because I’m between the hours when a Platform conductor is stationed to help passengers cross the wide gap between the train and the platform. The scoot train I’m getting on here soon passes in the Hicksville direction (where passengers connect with a Ronkonkoma Branch train). The small depot is only open during the mornings when its staffed so I take advantage of this to buy my second $3.00 ticket of the day to Greenlawn (the fare zones mean stopping here and at Northport is only an extra 75¢) direct from the agent. This makes taking pictures inside feel less awkward.


My diesel scoot train comes in on time at 1:13 and its an uneventful 4 stop ride to Greenlawn(60 Photos). 

I then start walking to Northport, the plan is to take the next train to finally get Port Jefferson, as I walk I realize that I don’t quite have time for this, first I get a train going towards Hempstead at a grade-crossing near Greenlawn.

I look at my timetable as a I walk, realizing I could make it out to Port Jeff but I would have less than half an hour. I would need to catch the 4:06 through train to Jamaica to get back into NYC in time for my evening engagement.

As I walk I remember there is a Suffolk Transit north-south route to Northport and look up the schedule, the next S41 bus is at 2:40, perfect! I can take it and get Bay Shore and maybe another stop on the Montauk Branch. I do my photo essay of Northport(46 Photos).


The S41 bus pulls into the turnaround loop at the station, about 5 minutes late. I pay my $2.00 plus 25¢ for a transfer fair. There is something wrong with the bus. The A/C isn’t working so its a little warm. The bus is crowded with a quite a few complaining riders. I’ve forgotten to charge my phone and it dies after I check and find out Montauk Branch service is basically hourly so I have plenty of time. It is a memorable bus ride, without A/C taking a series of long deviations. The first is to Suffolk Community College (Brentwood campus) where the driver restarts the engine. The next deviation must have taken us 15 minutes. It leads us on some narrow overgrown roads past oldish looking buildings some rather tall. We eventually pass a sign with a map that says Pilgrim State Hospital (now Pilgrim Psychiatric Center) and stop in front of what looks like a main entrance. Someone who’s clearly a patient gets on the stifling crowded bus. Once we leave the Hospital it finally empties out when we stop at Brentwood (I’ve gotten that stop on a previous trip) and its finally a quick 15 minutes down to Bay Shore(59 Photos) (passing the Entenmann’s plant in Bay Shore that is about to close). Where I get off after a ride I’m happy is over. Total travel time is about an hour and 15 minutes.



I do my photo essay and decide I might as well see if I can get put my transfer to use. My phone is dead so I can’t check the schedule of the S42 but decide to try and find a nearby bus stop and hope a schedule is posted. I find the stop at a corner across from the station at Union Blvd. There isn’t a timetable posted but an S42 bus (that only runs once an hour) is approaching. For once I’ve had perfect luck at showing up and catching an only hourly bus. My transfer is accepted and its a longish ride, mostly on a deviation north to the South Shore Mall (can you tell yet I hate inefficient deviations that Suffolk Transit is full of) and soon I’m getting off at Islip.

I do my photo essay at Islip(59 Photos) and am impressed by a pedestrian grade crossing at one end of the station. I realize to be on time I just need to take the next train straight back to Jamaica at 5:02 that is a through train from Montauk. I buy my $9.75 ticket.


The 5:02 train comes and its packed. There are only 4 C3s and its full of people who decided to extend there Memorial Day weekends an extra day. I immediately wish I had time to transfer to a local at Babylon and avoid the crowds. I walk both levels and eventually find the one set of seats that is free, yet occupied by a suitcase that’s too big to fit in the luggage rack. BiLevels do have smaller luggage racks but if you have oversized luggage it goes in the area by the doors, not down or upstairs. I ask them to move it telling them I would like to sit down and luggage doesn’t deserve its own seat. They sort of protest and eventually simply put it in the aisle awkwardly. I get a seat mate in Babylon who blabbers into his phone for most of the ride about a business deal that’s going bad because he’s running so late after Southwest Airlines messed up his luggage and he took an extra day of vacation telling his Boss. We go via the Babylon Branch, no Central Branch ride today.

Arriving in Jamaica a little early at 5:50 is nice. Were on track 1 right across from the historic Jamaica Station and I have a nice time getting some photos of this historic building, from this platform and from the street



Then its off on the E train into Manhattan, we stop briefly before 36 Street and because of a stalled train they announce that were being rerouted via the F, this means I get off where I got on at 57 Street (6 Avenue) instead of 7 Avenue-53 Street where this trip started and I grab a quick bite before heading up to Lincoln Center.