Around the Island

Richard’s Almanc: Riding the rails from Manhattan to Greenport


I spent last weekend with my six grandchildren at one son’s house in western Long Island to mark the second birthday of the youngest. We had a great time.

When it was time to leave, I decided to be a passenger in my other son’s car going to New Jersey. I wanted to do stuff with his two girls whom I do not see that often. I believe that I have said before that it’s because it can be so difficult to make the sometimes four-hour trip.

The LIE, the Belt Parkway, the Verrazano Bridge, the Staten Island Expressway and so on, can all be packed. But I do take all the kids back-to-school shopping and I had not gone with the Jersey girls yet.

Besides, the older of the two girls had a cross-country meet on Sunday that I would have a chance to see.

So after a full day of shopping, lunch and a four-hour cross country meet — there were about 300 kids there in Mountainside from 14 schools and my granddaughter won a bronze medal — we headed back home.

During dinner the subject of my return trip home the following day came up.

I decided to go with my son on his Jersey Transit commuter train to Penn Station the next morning. Then I’d figure out how to get back to the Island. I could go to Greenport — if there was a train — or Bridgehampton and have someone pick me up. Or I could head across town by foot or cab and get a bus to Greenport.

We arrived at Penn Station at about 8:45 a.m. I went to check timetables when I saw that there was a train to Greenport at 9:14. How fortuitous! I bought a ticket for $14 with the senior discount. That train would take me to Ronkonkoma where I’d switch to the Greenport train — an almost seamless trip that took about two hours and 45 minutes.

The scenery on the ride to Ronkonkoma was predictable — all the back of buildings that never get attention, all the backyards that are loaded with junk that never gets seen from the street, all the messy business operations that are relegated to not so-nice locations near the tracks. Basically, what you see riding any train near a metropolitan area.

Everything changed after Yaphank. A glimpse of old Long Island — farmland, horses, open space, ponds — all the way to Riverhead. Then through the sleepy hamlets of the North Fork with stops at Mattituck, Southold and finally Greenport.

I am trying to get an accurate daily train schedule that Islanders can depend on. I’ll let you know.