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: https://theresearchsandbox.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bHJ093hEpvg5zmK