Transportation on Long Island

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Every major form of transportation serves Long Island, including three major airports, railroads and subways, and several major highways. There are historic and modern bridges, recreational and commuter trails, and ferries, as well.


Map showing JFK (1) and LaGuardia (2) airports, both in Queens

Long Island is the location of three large airports with regularly scheduled commercial jet airline service. These are the John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, both in Queens County (in New York City), and the Long Island MacArthur Airport, (sometimes referred to as the "Islip Airport"), a smaller airport in Suffolk County. MacArthur is the only airport in Nassau or Suffolk counties with regularly scheduled commercial flights, handling about 2 million passengers a year. There are also general aviation airports on Long Island, such as Brookhaven Airport, East Hampton Airport, Francis S. Gabreski Airport, Montauk Airport, and Republic Airport as well as the grass strip equipped Bayport Aerodrome.

Travelers heading to or from Kennedy Airport may use AirTrain to connect with the Long Island Rail Road in Jamaica or the New York City Subway in Jamaica or Howard Beach.


The Long Island Expressway, Northern State Parkway, and Southern State Parkway, all products of the automobile-centered planning of Robert Moses, make east–west travel on the island straightforward, if not always quick. Indeed, locals refer to Long Island Expressway as "The World's Longest Parking Lot".

For a less stressful ride, one only needs to travel east across Long Island to the "Twin Forks". These two peninsulas offer a long and ambling journey far removed from the hustle and bustle of suburbia and the city further west. Indeed, even after one reaches the end of Long Island Expressway in Riverhead, it is another 45 minute drive along Middle Country Road to reach the eastern end of the North Fork at Orient Point, and over an hour along Sunrise and Montauk Highways to reach Montauk Point at the end of the South Fork.

Major roads of Long Island
west–east Roads

Ocean Parkway

NY-27A.svg Merrick Road / Montauk Highway

NY-27.svg Sunrise Highway*

Belt Pkwy Shield.svg Belt Parkway / Southern Pkwy Shield.svg Southern State Parkway

NY-24.svg Hempstead Turnpike

Grand Central Pkwy Shield.svg Grand Central Parkway / Northern Pkwy Shield.svg Northern State Parkway

I-495.svg Long Island Expressway

NY-25.svg Jericho Turnpike/Middle Country Road

NY-25A.svg Northern Boulevard

south–north Roads

I-278.svg Brooklyn-Queens Expressway

I-678.svg Van Wyck Expressway

Cross Island Pkwy Shield.svg Cross Island Parkway

Meadowbrook Pkwy Shield.svg Meadowbrook State Parkway

Wantagh Pkwy Shield.svg Wantagh State Parkway

NY-106.svg Newbridge Road/Broadway

NY-107.svg Cedar Swamp Road/Broadway

NY-135.svg Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway

NY-110.svg Broad Hollow Road/New York Avenue

NY-231.svg Deer Park Avenue

Robert Moses Cswy Shield.svg Robert Moses Causeway

Sagtikos Pkwy Shield.svg Sagtikos State Parkway / Sunken Meadow Pkwy Shield.svg Sunken Meadow State Parkway

NY-111.svg Islip Avenue

Suffolk County 97.svg Nicolls Road

Suffolk County 46.svg William Floyd Parkway

Roads in boldface are limited access roads. *Sunrise Highway is only limited-access from western Suffolk county eastwards.

Road map of Long Island - click for a larger view.

Bridges and Tunnels[edit]

Until the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883, all travel to Long Island was by boat. The first trains to connect Long Island to Manhattan were elevated rail lines that travelled over that same bridge. There are currently ten road crossings out of Long Island: the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to Staten Island; the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, Queens Midtown Tunnel, and Queensboro Bridge to Manhattan; the Triborough Bridge to either Manhattan or the Bronx via Wards Island; and the Whitestone Bridge and Throgs Neck Bridge to the Bronx.

All ten crossings are within New York City limits at the extreme western end of the island, making trips from Long Island to New England especially circuitous. Plans for a Long Island Sound crossing at various locations in Nassau and Suffolk Counties have been discussed for decades, but there are currently no firm plans to construct such a crossing.

In addition to the vehicular tunnels, there are eleven subway and railroad tunnels in Brooklyn and Queens crossing the East River. The most notable of these are the Northeast Corridor's East River Tunnels used by Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road to connect to Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. In addition, the proposed Cross-Harbor Rail Tunnel would greatly expand Long Island's access to the national freight rail system.

Bus service[edit]

The Nassau Inter-County Express provides bus transportation throughout Nassau County and the western portions of Suffolk County. This service was until the end of 2011 provided by the MTA as MTA Long Island Bus. Suffolk Transit provides bus transportation throughout Suffolk County, except within the Town of Huntington, which is served by Huntington Area Rapid Transit.

All bus stops are in effect at all times unless otherwise indicated by signage.[clarification needed]

Sign color Type of service
  • N6 Limited pick-up and drop-off points within Nassau County.
  • Nassau Inter-County Express service in Nassau and Suffolk counties
  • Suffolk Transit service

The 179 fire agencies in Nassau and Suffolk combined have more fire trucks than New York City and Los Angeles County put together.[1]

Ground Transportation[edit]

Being such a large, populous island with several airports connecting the island to the rest of the world, there are several hundred transportation companies that service the Long Island/New York City area. Winston airport shuttle, the oldest of these companies in business since 1973, was the first to introduce door-to-door shared-ride service to and from the major airports, which almost all transportation companies now utilize.[2]


Main article: Long Island Rail Road
Long Island Rail Road system map.

The Long Island Rail Road is the second busiest commuter railroad system in North America, carrying an average of 282,400 customers each weekday on 728 daily trains.[3] Chartered on April 24, 1834, it is also the oldest railroad still operating under its original name.[4]


The MV P.T. Barnum docked at Port Jefferson

Ferries provide service between Long Island and Connecticut, notably the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry between Port Jefferson, New York and Bridgeport, Connecticut, and the Cross Sound Ferry between Orient Point, New York and New London, Connecticut. Some of the ferries that cross Long Island Sound carry automobiles, trucks and buses, as well as passengers.

There are also the two ferries which serve Shelter Island (see New York State Route 114), a summer-only ferry between Block Island and Montauk, and a number of ferries serving Fire Island.


  1. ^ Fire alarm: The trucks, Newsday November 15, 2005
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Castillo, Alfosnso (January 23, 2012). "LIRR no longer U.S.'s largest commuter rail". Newsday. p. A2.  (subscription required)
  4. ^ "MTA LIRR - About the Long Island Rail Road". Retrieved 2010-01-22.