Photo by Nasrin Zahed
By Nasrin Zahed

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority held a roundtable meeting Thursday, Oct. 19, to discuss notable developments and improvements that are underway on the Long Island Rail Road and other local transit systems, with discussions centering around proposed modernization of the North Shore line of the Long Island Rail Road.

Port Jeff Branch

Under the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York State law mandates drastic cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. The electrification of the Port Jefferson Branch — which currently uses diesel-powered locomotives — had been pitched as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. [See “Elected officials, community leaders rally for electrification of LIRR’s Port Jeff line,” June 8, 2022, TBR News Media, and follow-up stories.]

When questioned on the topic, MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber emphasized the importance of mass transit in addressing climate change. “Mass transit is the antidote to climate change,” he said.

Lieber confirmed the agency’s commitment to an 85% reduction in emissions and noted that electrification of the Port Jefferson Branch of the LIRR is under consideration as part of this effort. However, he stressed the need to prioritize infrastructure maintenance to ensure the system’s stability before making investments in system expansion projects.

When posed with the question of electrifying the Port Jeff Branch in an effort to reduce Long Island’s greenhouse gas emissions, Lieber countered with the potential implementation of dual transit systems that introduce both clean diesel and partial electric motors to the North Shore line.

“If you’re taking the diesel locomotives and you’re converting them to clean diesel — which has 97% less particulate matter emissions and the ability to run electric when you hit the electrification areas, which are starting in Huntington — you’re dramatically improving the condition,” he said. “You don’t necessarily have to electrify the whole branch of the Port Jeff” line if these upgrades are implemented.

Situated along the Port Jeff Branch, however, lies Stony Brook University — the southern flagship of the State University of New York system and the only SUNY flagship within the MTA’s service area.

When TBR News Media inquired about the potential for upgrading the Port Jefferson line to help further accelerate Stony Brook University’s institutional advancements, Lieber responded that, “Everybody wants our Long Island Rail Road or mass transit system to support our educational institutions, which are, in Stony Brook’s case, part of the regional economy.”

He emphasized the importance of supporting Stony Brook’s growth and expansion but stopped short of specifying details on the matter. He also highlighted how recent improvements in mass transit options have opened up new opportunities for talent recruitment and expanded ridership during off-peak hours, which can benefit these institutions.

Regional transit trends

The meeting continued on a positive note thanks to the recent resurgence of ridership on the LIRR. “Last week, we had both the best week in terms of overall ridership numbers that we’ve ever had since the pandemic began,” said LIRR acting president Robert Free.

In addition to infrastructure and ridership growth, the discussion delved into the importance of supporting transit-oriented development. The primary goal of transit-oriented development, officials said, is to encourage residents to reduce car ownership and rely more on public transportation, contributing to reduced traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

The East Side Access project, which includes the new Grand Central Madison terminal and roughly 40 miles of additional tracks, allowed the LIRR to increase the number of trains by 40% from pre-pandemic levels, MTA officials noted.

The economic significance of the LIRR was underscored in the meeting, with participants acknowledging its pivotal role in supporting the region’s economy. Access to New York City employment opportunities, as well as facilitating local economic development, makes the LIRR a necessary public asset, easing roadway traffic congestion and reducing pollution. This expansion not only benefits conventional commuters but also facilitates reverse commuting, allowing Long Island businesses to recruit from a broader talent pool. It also enhances intra-island commuting options, benefiting Long Island residents.

File photo by Joseph Cali

News Flash

Generated by ChatGPT, edited by our staff 

•  MTA includes Port Jefferson Branch improvements in 20-year capital needs assessment.

•  Inclusion doesn’t guarantee pursuit, decisions hinge on future funding and other factors.

•   Local officials push for project, emphasizing economic benefits and improved transit.

The decades-old proposal to electrify the Port Jefferson Branch of the Long Island Rail Road passed a significant hurdle last week, though uncertainty remains long-term.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns and operates LIRR, included capacity improvements for the Port Jeff Branch within its 2025-2044 20-Year Needs Assessment blueprint published last week. 

The document outlines MTA’s long-term vision for the region’s transit, describing some of the needed improvements for the local line, including electrification, double tracking, stations, a storage yard and associated infrastructure.

The report states some of the project’s objectives, such as increased travel speed and frequency while providing a one-seat ride to Penn Station and Grand Central Madison. It further acknowledges the need to reduce strain upon the Ronkonkoma Branch by North Shore riders driving inland.

In a Sept. 29 letter addressed to Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), over two dozen state, county and local public officials called for Port Jeff Branch modernization within the 20-year plan. Dave Steckel, an MTA media liaison, said the agency had complied with the core request of the letter.

“Regarding the letter on Port Jefferson Branch electrification, the MTA has satisfied the request laid out in that letter by including Port Jefferson Branch electrification in the 20-year needs assessment,” Steckel said.

But, he added, “Inclusion in this analysis does not mean that the MTA will be pursuing a project. Decisions about which of these projects, if any, will be included in subsequent MTA capital programs, will be made in the context of those future programs, including the amount of funding available to rebuild and improve the existing MTA system, which will need to be prioritized before any expansion projects can be considered.”

The report finds potential operational constraints for the electrification project, highlighting the need for additional capital improvements, space for a new terminal rail yard and planning studies. The plan suggests the Lawrence Aviation Superfund site in Port Jefferson Station as a potential site for the rail yard.

The 20-year plan also added some possible drawbacks for prioritizing the Port Jeff Branch. Electrification of the line rated average in cost-effectiveness “mainly due to the high cost and relatively low ridership.”

Continuing the fight

In separate statements to TBR News Media, public officials representing North Shore communities continued to call for the MTA to prioritize the project.

New York State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) emphasized the centrality of the Lawrence Aviation property in regional planning for the North Shore and beyond.

“Electrification of the Port Jefferson line and the establishment of the Lawrence Aviation site as a regional rail hub is a critically important component of our efforts to enhance mass transit service to North Shore residents,” he said. “Improving access and reliability to our mass transit system will increase ridership, alleviate traffic congestion and be an economic boost to the local economy.”

Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Lauren Sheprow expanded on the existing pressures upon Port Jeff Branch commuters to Manhattan, particularly in the context of the burden of transit by rail.

“For years, residents of Port Jeff and the surrounding communities have demonstrated by their actions how they feel about the Port Jefferson Branch — we drive to Ronkonkoma when seeking direct travel, a shorter commute, more frequent service options and less transfers,” she said. “Electrification and modernization of the Port Jefferson Branch will increase connectivity between stations. It will reduce travel time and transfers, and provide more frequent scheduling options, including express options.”

State Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James) emphasized the vast support for this effort among officials and community stakeholders, noting “everybody involved wants this.” He said generating the necessary public awareness and appealing to Hochul remain critical.

“We need to make sure that we convince the governor that this is important for Long Islanders,” he said, advocating for a grassroots, mobilized effort to bolster public support. “Strength with numbers wins,” he added.

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) suggested electrification would help counteract some of the downward trends throughout the region, namely the loss of youth.

“Thousands of Brookhaven residents use the LIRR to commute to work every day, and thousands more ride the train for other reasons,” the town supervisor said. “Electrification would provide faster, more efficient service and attract people to live in the communities with close access to the railroad,” adding, “The economic upside would be felt throughout the town as more people choose to live here, and our young people decide to stay because of the improved LIRR service and easier access in and out of New York City.”

Though placement onto the 20-year plan could be considered a win, much work remains ahead. Larry Penner, a transit advocate and former director of Federal Transit Administration Region 2, called upon the various governmental bodies across the North Shore to begin laying down seed funds to signal their interest.

“Why don’t all these elected officials put up some money to at least keep the project alive?” he said. “Why are they waiting for the MTA to move the project forward?” He added, “Talk is cheap, but actions speak louder.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul updates New Yorkers on Saturday, Sept. 30, the day after declaring a state of emergency for Long Island. Photo courtesy the New York State Executive Chamber

Flash flooding leveled much of the tri-state area last Friday, Sept. 29, prompting a state of emergency declaration for Long Island while unleashing damage and halting some services.

The National Weather Service issued a coastal flood watch for Long Island Friday, which remained in effect into the night. Heavy rainfall and intense flooding throughout the region prompted Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) to declare a state of emergency for Long Island, as well as for New York City and portions of the Hudson Valley.

Heavy flooding caused roadway closures at state Route 110 in Huntington between Mill Lane and Prime Avenue near Madison Street at Heckscher State Park, according to a NWS report. In Commack, a stranded motorist on Town Line Road required an emergency service response, the same report indicated.

In an emailed statement, Town of Huntington Supervisor Ed Smyth (R) maintained that much of the town’s infrastructure and services remained undisturbed despite the heavy rainfall.

“Highway Superintendent Andre Sorrentino and the Highway Department, along with our Environmental Waste Management Department, were out in full force with pumps and tree crews clearing and cleaning,” Smyth said. “Our sewage treatment plants received more than double their normal water flow without any reported spillage.”

He added that garbage collection continued as scheduled, though the storm had disrupted and canceled numerous local events. “However, normal government operations continued without interruption. Although there were no significant issues, the town is currently assessing all departments to determine any and all issues relating to the storm.”

Joana Flores, media liaison for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, indicated that operations along the Long Island Rail Road’s Port Jefferson Branch were largely undeterred.

“Friday’s weather event did not have any impact on MTA infrastructure in the Port Jefferson area or to Port Jefferson train service,” Flores said. “With the exception of one train that was momentarily delayed due to a non-weather-related matter, the Port Jefferson Branch operated on or close to schedule.”

“Crews did perform periodic patrols of the Port Jefferson Branch to monitor conditions of the infrastructure,” she added.

Electrical infrastructure had similarly avoided major damages, according to Jeremy Walsh, a spokesperson for PSEG Long Island. “Friday’s flooding did not impact the electric infrastructure,” he said in an email. “Overall, the system performed well. While we did experience scattered outage activity, it was mainly as a result of the heavy rains and gusty conditions impacting trees and tree limbs, not flood damage.”

Given projections for more frequent and intense storm events over the coming years, Walsh added that the utility company is continuing efforts toward mitigating the associated risks to the electrical grid.

“PSEG Long Island has been storm-hardening the electric grid since 2014, including elevating equipment at some substations to protect against flooding, and this has helped reduce the impact of severe weather events,” he noted. “We continue to storm-harden the infrastructure using the best projections for future flooding and wind conditions that are available to us.”

The storm’s impacts were not limited to public infrastructure, however. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation temporarily closed much of the North Shore to shellfishing due to “extremely heavy rainfall and extraordinary amounts of stormwater runoff and localized street flooding … which may result in conditions causing shellfish to be hazardous for use as food,” a NYSDEC report said.

At a press conference the following day, Sept. 30, Hochul announced that there had been no recorded fatalities due to the flooding, thanking the public for heeding emergency warnings.

“What had been described by myself as a potentially life-threatening event ended up being a time when people listened, they reacted properly, they took precautions and no lives were lost,” the governor said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, left, and Marty Buchman, a member of the board of the New York Bicycling Association. Photo from Bellone’s Flickr page

Suffolk County’s transportation network may soon undergo significant transformation.

In 2020, the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning published its Hike and Bike Master Plan, which calls for 1,200 miles of new pedestrian and biking infrastructure countywide.

To mark Car Free Day on Friday, Sept. 22, county officials joined transit advocates along a bike path in Kings Park, announcing a new program to achieve the goals of this master plan through intermunicipal coordination.

“Today on Car Free Day, I am proud to announce that we are taking our Hike-Bike Master Plan further, taking additional steps to create a safe and comfortable biking environment in Suffolk County,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D).

The new program, GEAR — Guidance for Enhancing Active Recreation — Up Suffolk, will authorize the county’s Department of Economic Development and Planning to provide free technical and design assistance to municipalities to implement active transportation projects. This undertaking aims to help Suffolk’s towns and villages expand trail access by reconfiguring local roadways.

While various trail networks already exist, Bellone said the GEAR Up initiative could help “fill in the gaps” between existing trail infrastructure.

“Where are the gaps? They’re roads,” he said. “In many cases — most cases even — they’re local roads.”

Bellone said the county government seeks to offer conceptual and preliminary designs, conducted in coordination with local municipalities, tailored to meet a community’s needs. 

These proposals may include corridor designs, bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, curb extensions and flashing beacons, among other design elements.

“We want to create an interconnected biking and hiking network that you can use [to] travel across the county,” Bellone said.

Marty Buchman, a member of the board of the New York Bicycling Association, pointed to the deficiencies of past planning and its impacts today on local communities.

“Suffolk County was never designed for the amount of population that it contains right now,” he said. “The roads were designed for a rural county,” adding, “The situation of cars in Suffolk County is going to get worse.”

Buchman advocated for planners and municipalities to view the bicycle as an alternative to the automobile. He suggested trails could help alleviate several of the challenges drivers experience on roadways.

“I’d like to see more paths — not just recreational paths but paths for transportation,” he said, advising “that a bicycle be looked at as more than just a fitness tool or an outdoors tool but a way for people to get from point A to point B.”

He added, “That’s not going to happen without the required or needed infrastructure.”

Bellone outlined multiple benefits of expanding trail access, such as environmental protection, economic development and downtown revitalization.

Amid escalating fears of a youth exodus from Long Island, Bellone said promoting alternative modes of transit can help the county retain and attract young people.

“We are in a competition for innovators, young people, entrepreneurs and skilled workers,” the county executive said. “We want them living in our downtowns. We want them raising their families here because that will bring more jobs, businesses and sustainable economic growth.”

“You get that when you make investments in the things that improve people’s quality of life,” he added.

Buchman referred to hiking and biking infrastructure as an apolitical policy area: “This is not a political issue,” the transit advocate said. “Republicans ride. Democrats ride. People ride.”

In achieving the goals of the master plan, Bellone said intergovernmental collaboration would remain crucial while working toward the objectives of the 2020 master plan. 

“Having an interconnected hiking and biking network throughout Suffolk County helps every community and family across the county,” he said.

The county will accept applications for the GEAR Up program on a rolling basis.

A Long Island Rail Road train arrives at Stony Brook train station during rush hour. Photo by ComplexRational from Wikimedia Commons
By Samantha Rutt

The Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning recently released a survey asking respondents to share their thoughts and opinions on the potential modernization of the Port Jefferson Branch of the Long Island Rail Road. 

“Community input underpins all aspects of our approach to economic development in Suffolk County,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) in a statement. “We look forward to hearing from all stakeholders on the opportunities presented by modernization to allow for a single-seat ride from Port Jefferson to both Grand Central and Penn Station for our communities along the North Shore.” 

The survey asks questions regarding the frequency of public transportation and LIRR ridership, the purpose of railway trips, specific and preferred branch use, among other questions.

Currently, the North Shore line offers limited direct train service to Penn Station with no direct service to Grand Central Madison. The decades-old proposal to modernize the line calls for electrification, double tracking and other rail yard improvements and modifications. 

If the project were approved, the Port Jefferson Branch could provide faster and more direct service options to Manhattan and more frequent service overall. 

Electrification of the Port Jefferson Branch was originally planned in the 1980s but stalled as the Ronkonkoma Branch took precedence. Critics and transit analysts regard the existing dual-mode diesel service as unreliable, inconsistent and environmentally hazardous. [See story, “Port Jeff Branch riders face potentially decades more electrification woes,” Feb. 9, 2023, TBR News Media website.] 

“It is vitally important that we electrify the Port Jefferson Branch to protect our environment from the polluting diesel trains, enhance service for our residents and create jobs for our hardworking men and women of union labor,” New York State Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James) said. “Our residents and our workers deserve to benefit from the funding provided to the MTA.”

A key objective of the electrification initiative is to mitigate the need for transfer services for those traveling to New York City. By eliminating transfer services, advocates for the project aim to increase ridership while promoting further development around each LIRR station. 

Updates could alleviate vehicular traffic congestion across the Island, according to New York State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk), as commuters who regularly travel to alternate lines would have more local transit options.

Electrification would “alleviate traffic congestion, foster economic development and will help to achieve our climate goals,” the state senator said. “Clean, reliable and expanded transportation services are essential to meet Long Island’s growing population.”

The survey received nearly 2,500 responses in its opening week, according to the Department of Economic Development and Planning statement. Bellone encouraged all North Shore residents to complete the questionnaire, which takes an average of 5-10 minutes.

“I encourage everyone, including residents, businesses and students on the North Shore, to take the survey and demonstrate how important the modernization of the Port Jefferson Branch is to Suffolk County,” Bellone said.

The survey will remain open until Monday, Sept. 4. To fill it out, click on the link:

State and local officials rally outside the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles office in Port Jefferson Station on Tuesday, Aug. 22. From left, New York State Sen. Anthony Palumbo, state Assemblyman Ed Flood, Town of Brookhaven Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico, Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich and Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner. Photos by Raymond Janis

State and local officials are letting out a collective uproar over the planned closure of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Port Jefferson Station branch later this week.

The Port Jeff Station office serves most of northern Brookhaven and parts of Smithtown. The three nearest alternatives are DMV offices in Medford, Hauppauge or Riverhead.

With foot traffic constantly moving in and out of the DMV on Tuesday morning, Aug. 22, New York State legislators joined Brookhaven Town Board members for a press conference calling upon Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) to intervene.

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), who is running for Suffolk County executive against business leader Dave Calone (D), noted that while Suffolk is the fourth largest county by population in New York State, it tops the list in registered licensed drivers and registered vehicles.

“Closing this DMV office, which is used by so many people, is not the way to go,” he said.

New York State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) highlighted the Town of Brookhaven’s considerable population, noting that the town has more residents than Miami, Florida.

“Could you imagine ignoring the residents of Miami when it comes to licensing drivers?” he asked. “Closing this DMV, unfortunately, is quite reckless, and I don’t think we’re really thinking about the citizens and the services they need.”

The state senator added that closing the Port Jefferson Station DMV would put greater strain on existing DMV locations in Suffolk County.

New York State Assemblyman Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson) referred to the announced closure as a “disservice to the residents of this area.”

“It’s not in any way good government to close buildings or close facilities that are necessary,” the assemblyman said. “Right now, we have a need to expand our DMV operations instead of contract.”

Brookhaven Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico (R-Manorville), who is running for town supervisor against SUNY Old Westbury adjunct professor Lillian Clayman (D), attended Tuesday’s press event, condemning New York as “a state where people pay more and get less.”

“The overall theme and what we’re pointing out — what I’m pointing out — is that people on Long Island, specifically in Suffolk County and Brookhaven Town, are continually shortchanged by the State of New York,” he said.

Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), whose 1st District includes the hamlets and villages across northwestern Brookhaven, echoed Panico’s sentiments. He referred to the conflict over limited state resources as a “suburban versus urban dynamic,” with suburban areas often neglected.

“The closure of this office is going to add at a minimum 40 minutes of round-trip driving for our residents who use it,” he indicated. “This is something that impacts all our residents.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point), whose 2nd District encompasses the northeastern reaches of the township, said existing employees at the Port Jeff Station location do not wish to relocate.

She also suggested that the closure contradicts the spirit of Hochul’s environmental agenda.

“Our governor has a very lofty environmental initiative,” Bonner stated. “Putting people in cars for longer on our state roads — that are not well maintained — and emitting fossil fuels doesn’t go along with her environmental initiative.”

Officials encouraged residents to weigh in on the DMV closure through an online petition created by the town. Scan the QR code to fill out the survey.

A Suffolk County Transit bus passes through an intersection on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station. Photo by Raymond Janis

The Suffolk County Transit bus system is facing several financial and operational challenges, county officials and transit experts say.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) highlighted the bus system’s prominent role in servicing the county’s residents. “The bus system is very important,” he told TBR News Media in an exclusive interview. “There have been a number of efforts over the years and a lot of discussions about [improvements].”

Despite good-faith efforts, many challenges remain, presenting difficult questions for policymakers. Former Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) outlined some challenges riders face.

“We don’t have enough routes, they don’t run often enough, and they don’t run late enough into the night or start early enough — there’s no question about it,” she said. “Traffic is increasing, our roadways are crumbling, and an improved bus system would certainly help needy families across Suffolk County.”

Cost a barrier to improvement

Richard Murdocco is an adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science at Stony Brook University. He noted the vital need the county’s bus system fulfills, particularly for vulnerable populations.

“Socially, it’s a service,” he said. “If people are taking the bus in Suffolk County, there’s a reason why,” as bus riders are often “the most vulnerable, and they need and rely on the bus system. It’s a public good.”

Murdocco considered mass transit in general as “a financial loser.” The bus system itself, he added, operates at a perpetual loss, requiring considerable subsidization. Hahn supported this assessment.

“It’s a difficult nut to crack because of the size of the county and the funding that we have access to,” she said. “It’s expensive to run buses all day long across a county as large as ours.”

Financing improvements, therefore, can be a complicated policy determination, especially given the dearth of riders. “The costs are always going to be astronomically high because there’s simply not enough population density for the routes to sustain it,” Murdocco said.

He added that Suffolk’s suburban character hinders ridership and hampers public investment, unlike densely populated urban areas.

A bus system “operates within the confines of the built environment,” the SBU adjunct professor said. “The fact of the matter is that Suffolk County isn’t dense populationwise. A mass transit system like the bus system needs density to thrive.”

While the bus system is “financially insolvent,” according to Murdocco, he did not consider systemwide expansion and modernization entirely off the table. 

Improvements are promised

Murdocco advocated for a “more holistic approach” when analyzing the bus system, tying buses to other modes of public and private transit. He presented the idea of a regional transportation study.

“You need a cohesive look,” he said. “Not even framing it as a bus study, but a holistic transportation study with local planners from the municipalities” is in order.

He added, “I want local governments working in conjunction with the county to look at the issue like they used to do.”

Bellone said the necessary studies and community outreach initiatives have taken place. He forecasted that systemwide improvements would be coming down the road. 

“We’ve done the analysis and a lot of community work,” the county executive said. “A lot of improvements are coming, based on community feedback and the studies that have been done.”

The DMV In the Three Roads Plaza will close its doors on Aug. 25. Photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

By Heidi Sutton

The Port Jefferson Station office of New York State’s Department of Motor Vehicles will close by the end of August. 

In a press release on July 27 the agency announced that it is consolidating its brick-and-mortar locations in Suffolk County and that the closing was part of its strategic transformation plan and “ongoing efforts to maximize operational efficiencies and best utilize taxpayer resources.”  

The office, located at 1055 Route 112 in the Three Roads Plaza, will no longer serve customers after August 25. Operations and staff at that location will be absorbed by the other four offices in Suffolk County which include Medford, Hauppauge, Dix Hills, and Riverhead.

“One of the foundational goals of our transformation effort is to change how we operate and to work more effectively in a fiscally responsible manner,” said DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder. “All decisions about our office locations are made with our customers and employees top of mind, and through careful consideration and analysis of the facts and data.”

Schroeder said the decision was based on the expansion of the DMV’s online and self-service transactions which had led to a declining number of in-person transactions at the Port Jefferson Station office.  

“Because of the significant expansion of our online footprint, our appointment system, and the processing efficiencies we have gained in the past two years, we see an opportunity to shift our workforce to the other locations in Suffolk County to maximize the capacity in those offices and ultimately to serve our customers better and faster,” he said.

There are currently more than 70 transactions and services available at DMV.NY.GOV that customers can use to better prepare to visit an office and make their experience as seamless as possible or skip the trip altogether. Customers can renew a driver license or vehicle registration online, order a duplicate document, request their driving record, pay fees and fines, check the status of their ID, change their address and more. 

For in-person transactions, customers are encouraged to visit the Medford office at 2799 Route 112, which is approximately 10 miles from the Port Jefferson Station location. 

“The average customer who visits [the DMV office] is in and out in less than 30 minutes thanks to DMV’s appointment scheduling system that allows customers to avoid waiting in line” said the release.

For more information, call their customer service number at 1-800-698-2931.

File photo

Did you know? The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook offers docent-led tours of its state-of-the-art Carriage Museum on July 22, July 23 and July 29 from 1 to 3 p.m. Visit eight galleries and learn about the world before cars through conversation, photographs and artifacts. All ages welcome. Free with paid admission to the museum. For more information, call 631-751-0066 or visit

Photo from Pixabay
By Aidan Johnson

With ongoing concerns about young adults leaving Long Island, other age demographics may be looking for the escape hatch.

Adults aged 60 and over, who account for roughly 20% of Suffolk County’s population according to a 2022 report from the Suffolk County Office for the Aging, have been feeling the impact of Long Island’s high prices as well.

Eric Stutz, a real estate broker based out of Baldwin who specializes in seniors and estates, said he sees Long Island as below average in being a senior-friendly place.

“I see a lot of my clients are heading to the Southeast, between North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida,” he said in a phone interview. “That seems to be the majority.”

Recently, a pair of Stutz’s clients had to choose between staying on Long Island with two of their children or moving to North Carolina, where their daughter lived.

“It was a tough decision, it took a couple of years,” Stutz said. “But their main reason for moving to North Carolina … was the cost of living on Long Island.”

JoAnn Kullack, the chair of Long Island’s chapter of the Retired Public Employees Association, sees many other senior citizens having to choose between living on Long Island or finding somewhere more affordable.

“Most seniors that I know do complain about the cost of living,” she said.

‘Most seniors that I know do complain about the cost of living.’

— JoAnn Kullack

Kullack believes that one of the big draws of staying on the Island for seniors is the abundance of medical care. Big university hospitals, such as Stony Brook, and the closeness of Manhattan hospitals and specialists offer valid incentives for seniors to want to stay.

“A lot of people that I know want to stay here on Long Island,” due to access to premium health care services, Kullack said. “They don’t wish to leave.” 

Kullack suggested lowering the utility rates could offer much-needed relief to Long Island’s senior citizens. While some programs are available that can assist, she added the qualifications are often unrealistic.

“A lot of people don’t qualify,” the RPEA chair said. “If you have two people in the household, you have to be [only earning] $30,000. How can you live here on that?” 

 “You’re taking into consideration paying taxes, paying for utilities, and even if you have no mortgage on your home, you still have to have enough money for food,” she added.

Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) views Long Island as a challenging place to live, especially for those who do not make a lot of money.

“We need to address the high tax rate on Long Island,” she said in a phone interview. “We need to do a better job of taking care of our seniors and veterans. So many of our seniors are house rich and cash poor.”

Long Island can also be tough to navigate for seniors who cannot drive, as there is a lack of adequate public transportation.

“I know myself and my husband do a fair amount of taking our moms to doctor appointments and shopping,” Bonner said, adding, “Transportation services are cut when budgets are tight — bus routes are removed.” 

Brookhaven does have programs aimed at helping seniors who may have trouble with transportation, Bonner explained. Still, the town does seek to assist its aging population where it can. 

“We have our senior clubs, our senior transportation, nutrition at our senior centers and Meals on Wheels. We do our part.”

Bonner added that she wants to see seniors be able to “age in place,” where they want to be, instead of being pushed out.

“That’s what we need because if we can provide resources for our seniors to age in a place where they are most comfortable — in their home. It is more affordable that way than building large-scale senior complexes,” the councilwoman said.