LIRR Road n'
Intact Road n' Rail Bus Stop sign over 40 years old
Jericho Turnpike, South Huntington 8/2012
Photo: Gary Farkash
LIRR Road n' Rail GM 5300 Suburban Bus #367 Corgi O scale model/photo by Steve Hoskins Archive: Daniel Marra
n' Rail #370 "L.I.R.R. SPECIAL" - 200-15
Linden Blvd., St Albans, NY c.1960+
The first run is April 7, 1962 (see first day
ticket sold in Jamaica that day). All remaining Montauk Branch Road-n-Rail
service ended with the 1980 timetable.
Road n' Rail Bus Service
some time, the LIRR had tried to attract customers on the East End. In
1955, an attempt was made to do this. A single-car prototype train ran
along the Main Line to Riverhead, but this turned out to be a failure.
During the mid-1960s the LIRR lost mail contracts, which had justified
service on the East End. One way to continue service to these stations
would have been to implement bus service, which could then replace certain
train trips, reducing the need of maintenance on the Montauk Branch and
Ronkonkoma Branch. The LIRR decide to do precisely that. In the 1960s and
1970s, the LIRR operated a bus route between Greenport and Huntington as a
combination "Road 'n' Rail" service, paralleling the Montauk
Branch between Babylon and Montauk. Passengers on short trips were
expected to be attracted to the buses as they were cheaper than rail, and
because they ran through a heavily populated area that had no rail
An additional reason was competition. Long Island Transit Systems, Inc., at the end of 1960 sought permission to operate express bus service via the Long Island Expressway and New York State Route 25 between New York City and Riverhead, where it would continue easterly by arrangement with Sunrise Coach Lines, Inc. to Greenport. At around this time, the LIRR proposed its own bus plan, and in July 1961 the Public Service Commission (PSC) ruled that Long Island Transit's petition was not in the public's best interest. However, it would grant the LIRR’s proposal if the railroad received agreement from local governments along the route by January 18, 1962. On January 17, 1962, the PSC authorized service as far as Southold and an extension to Greenport was granted later on. The buses first ran on Monday, February 19, 1962, with the desire to triple passenger service in Central Suffolk and the North Fork. Because of its popularity, another bus route was initiated on the South Shore from Amityville to Montauk after approval from the PSC on May 10, 1963. This route ran along Montauk Highway from Shirley to the Shinnecock Canal. Six round trips a day would supplement rail service, and four new air-conditioned buses were ordered. Bus service began on this route on June 8, 1963.
The new plan replaced trains with six daily bus round trips between Riverhead and Huntington, half of which went on to Greenport, and two round trips on the weekend between Greenport and Huntington, where connections could be made for train service to New York. Bus service was one way to continue service to eastern stations, replacing certain train trips, and therefore reducing schedules. In turn came reduced maintenance, and extended trip times. The LIRR, with the bus service implemented, was allowed to discontinue one westbound train out of Greenport and one eastbound to Greenport. These buses also served new communities along New York State Route 25 in Central Suffolk, which were three to five miles from Main Line stations. This brought the railroad to passengers rather than having them travel to the railroad. In order to save time, buses ran express along the Smithtown Bypass. Zones were established by the PSC in order to prevent competition with local bus routes. The area between Huntington station and Deport Road and Jericho Turnpike was Zone one. The second zone was Jericho Turnpike between Larkfield Road and Veteran’s Memorial Highway. Middle County Road between Stony Brook Road and Evergreen Avenue was the third zone. The fourth zone was along Middle Country Road between Evergreen Drive and New York State Route 112. The fifth zone was from Riverhead to Greenport.
The original Road n' Rail buses were operated under contract with the LIRR, by Huntington Coach Corporation. In June 1973, the Metropolitan Suburban Bus Authority (MSBA) became the owner of LIRR Road n' Rail, and the "Town of Huntington" took over Huntington Coach routes as Huntington Area Rapid Transit (HART). The bus route primarily traveled along New York State Route 25 Jericho Turnpike. There were six bus trips each way weekdays, and four on the weekends.
In the beginning of Summer 1973, the LIRR discontinued direct Huntington to Riverhead bus service, relying on a faster route. A total of eleven eastbound buses and twelve westbound buses were in service in Summer 1976, at the peak of the Road n' Rail service. The next summer, only seven eastbound and nine westbound buses were operated. Service continued to be reduced, with weekend service dropped by a round trip in 1978, and the service was reduced to only weekends during Summer 1981. In 1982, the service only operated during midday hours, showing the LIRR's desire to return train service. Bus service became unreliable and undesirable with population growth on the East End, and North Fork bus service to Babylon was reduced to a pair of daily round trips on October 18, 1982, before finally being eliminated. Road n' Rail bus service to Greenport ended on weekdays on September 8, 1981, and it ended on weekends on October 17, 1983. After repeated threats of abandonment, the Speonk to Montauk segment was rebuilt in the late 1970s, and the project was completed in time for the summer timetable of 1980. All remaining Montauk Branch Road-n-Rail service ended with this timetable. With the elimination of Road n' Rail, train service returned to its previous level. Info: "History of the Long Island Rail Road" - Wikipedia
Road n' Rail Stories Part I
By: Daniel Marra, Sr.
was Spring of 1974, and the Metropolitan Suburban Bus Authority, aka
“MSBA” had been operating Nassau County's Bus System for 10 months,
with the exception of LIRR’s Road n' Rail buses from Babylon to Montauk
The original Road-n-Rail buses were operated under contract with LIRR, by
Huntington Coach Corp., From Huntington Station to Greenport, and from
Amityville to Montauk. Some of the buses bore the name “Bay Hunt” on
their sides, for, I believe,tax purposes.
contracted with Schenck Transportation to continue operating the two
routes until MSBA could purchase new GMC Suburban coaches for the Road n'
Rail, and Charter operations.
LIRR Road-n-Rail #500 c.1972 The freight building at the right
is today the home of the RMLI Greenport facility. The vehicle has a
1966-1973 era NY Blue license plate on the 1970 Ford Torino.
was fairly high in seniority, and picked an open early A.M., run on
Babylon-Greenport with a 4:00 am report time at MSBA’s Zahn’s Airport
Depot in North Amityville. Pull out time at 4:10 am leaving Babylon Rail
at 4:30 am (contingent on arrival of the connecting train from NYC Penn
Station) arriving Greenport at 5:50. The train was only late once, but at
0430 there was very little, almost non-existing, traffic and easy to make
up the lost time.
Babylon-Greenport was the best of the two Express routes like driving “Over-The-Road” through New England towns. At Schenck; I always preferred the long distance charters and Greyhound + Adirondack Trailways rental jobs, as opposed to local transit runs.
a Bus Operator, driving the Road n' Rail buses afforded us a few titles:
Road n' Rail route was nice, but it had its good, and bad points. Leaving
Babylon, the route went east on Union Blvd, north on NY Rte 231, to NY Rte
27 (Sunrise Highway) east. Back in the early 1970’s, the new six lane
limited access portion of NY 27 ended at Saxon Ave Bay Shore, then it was
down to four lanes & traffic lights for about 12 miles.
NY Rte 112 (Patchogue), it was back on the new Four lane highway for 25
miles to Suffolk County Rte 51 northeast to Riverhead, my first drop-off
stop. From there, it was NY Rte 25 two lanes, all the way to Greenport.
Not bad at 5:15 am, with only five drop-off points, easy to stay on time.
At 4:30 am, most times I had no passengers. Once or twice a week, I would
get one to three or four riders.
The Road-n-Rail buses stopped at stations to drop off Pax from LIRR
trains. From Greenport, we made all designated Station stops to pick up
pax to Babylon only. Pax=Passengers.
was the 5:55 out of Greenport, picking up commuters, many from Shelter
Island, & Greenport, Southhold, Mattituck, Aquabogue, & Riverhead.
Staying on time was an unrealistic breeze, as the westbound traffic on
2-lane Rte 25 moved along at 55 to 60 Mph, all the way to Babylon Rail.
leaving Riverhead, it was a clear sailing south on County Rd 51, &
west on Sunrise Hgwy. 95% of the time I would get to Babylon ahead of
time. My riders were happy, as they could catch the “Seaford Express”
which left 15 minutes before their scheduled local train.
Bad part: I cannot say the same for my next round trip to Greenport which
was an absolute disaster. 8:45 out of Babylon, and 10:19 out of Greenport,
never happened. The connecting train from NYC, was always late due to LIRR
westbound trains having priority over eastbound trains.
Babylon 15 to 20 minutes late put me 20 to 30 minutes late in Greenport.
On a good day I would get out of Greenport around 10:45. By that time of
the day, traffic on (2 lane) NY 25 was horrendous, with tourists, farm
wagons, and tractors, etc.
scheduled 10:19 from Greenport, never happened while I had the run. I
seriously doubt anyone else got out of Greenport at 10:19 either. My
License was more important to me than the LIRR’s impossible to adhere to
every pick-up point, passengers would complain they would not make their
train. My best answer: “Yes, I’m late. There are 88 trains a day from
Babylon to NY. You missed #1 and maybe #2. That leaves 86 more. Pick
days I would arrive Babylon at 12:50 nearly 1 hour late. A few unhappy
drove this route during July, & August 1974, and picked it again for
the Fall/Winter pick, from September through December. Daniel
LIRR Road-n-Rail SDM4501 #365 being lettered at Huntington Coach garage
LIRR Road-n-Rail buses #371-375 Publicity Shot Huntington Station c.1964
The first batch of 35ft suburban coaches were purchased new by Schenck Transportation for Huntington Coach. Schenck was part owner of HC.
LIRR Road-n-Rail SDM4501 #366 Christening ceremony, Riverhead
LIRR Road-n-Rail bus #370 Departing Riverhead 1968
LIRR Road-n-Rail bus #224 Greenport 5/17/1970 Photo: Steve Zabel Archive: J Testagrose
LIRR Road-n-Rail Amityville 06-1964
LIRR Road-n-Rail news article Start of Montauk Day Service
LIRR C420 #219 Greenport "Scoot" 1973 LIRR Road 'n Rail bus, which operated between Huntington and Greenport, is visible left. Photo: Brad Phillips
MSBA #104 Greenport 08/1974
MSBA #114 Greenport
MSBA #118 #120 Babylon Station 08/01/1978
Road n' Rail Stories Part II
Seaford Express - The Blockade of Babylon Station
In Part I, I stated: “My first trip from Greenport to Babylon was a breeze.” Leaving Riverhead (the last pickup point) on time allowed me to arrive at Babylon a few minutes earlier than the schedule indicated.
passengers were happy as they were able to catch the earlier “Seaford
Express”, instead of the next scheduled Local train.
me if I am wrong here. The Seaford Express made all stops to Seaford, then
ran non-stop to Jamaica, then non-stop to Penn Station. This was a better
choice than the All Stops Local 15 minutes behind the express.
to three weeks into this early arrival, I pulled into Babylon Rail,
deposited my passengers, and was confronted by two burly & unhappy
LIRR Conductors. They told me “You are getting here too early, and your
passengers are getting on the wrong train.” I replied, “What do you
mean the wrong train?”
Some of my daily riders told me about the Conductors not accepting their
tickets from the buses. The Trainmen were charging them extra money for
buying tickets on the train instead of from the Babylon Station Agent,
which was open.
found out that the conductors on the later train received additional pay
for accepting the bus tickets, and only charging the extra fare that was
two Conductors warned me; “There would be trouble if: "I did not
comply with their request!!” I informed the two gentlemen: “I don’t
work for you, and you need to have your Union delegate, and/or your
Supervisor call my boss and straighten this out.” I will be here
tomorrow, at the same time.
next morning, as I pulled into the driveway at Babylon station, I was
greeted by about six to eight irate conductors blocking the driveway. The
LIRR Police and a Supervisor were also there, to keep order.
to my bus blocking the driveway, traffic behind me backed up quickly,
bringing Suffolk County PD to the scene. I honked the horn and told the
conductors to let me move to the waiting room.
opened the door to verbal threats from the same conductors as the day
before. They yelled to my passengers to stay in their seats, “You are
not allowed to board this train.”
that, two Lawyers on my bus told the Conductors if they did not let the
bus move up to the station, they could and would be charged with unlawful
imprisonment, detention without a warrant, and a few other charges.
this time, the LIRR, Suffolk PD, and the Supervisor were at the door
telling the conductors to let the bus through. One of MSBA
Supervisors arrived and said “We need to let the passengers off the bus,
so we can discuss and solve these problems calmly.”
outcome was that any conductors on the Seaford Express handling bus
passengers tickets, would receive extra pay. Problem solved and everyone
was happy!! Just another fine day in the country.
Daniel Marra, Sr.
MSBA #116 in Phase II white paint scheme Greenport
MSBA #703 SPECIAL run at Zane Airport Garage N. Amityville 9/18/1976 Photo: Ed McKeirnan
indicates In Service on a special run/assignment. For example; not all of
our buses had Greenport, Babylon, Montauk, signs due to the fact they were
never used as “Line Buses.” #702 & 703, were ex-Bee Line buses used
mostly on Charters, and therefore did not need other signs. If I remember
correctly, the ex-Bee Liners, had only Charter, Express, & Special on
their sign curtains.
= Bus is rented by groups of people for the purpose of outings, i.e.,
Baseball & other sporting events, picnics, theater groups, other
“Buses Are Fun” trips etc.
= Buses on Special assignment like carrying Baseball, Football, Hockey,
teams to and from their hotels to arenas. Nassau County used MSBA buses
transporting Police Officers to Parades, Funerals, and other important
Express = Buses used on line runs to carry commuters from Hicksville to Flushing or Jamaica for example. When the LIRR has a major delay on one or more of its lines, Station Announcements’ advise passenger to board waiting Special, or Express buses at the station to other non-affected LIRR stations or Jamaica Subway.
Road n' Rail Stories - Huntington Coach Demise
answer your question regarding Huntington Coach. When MSBA took over
operations of all Nassau bus routes, Huntington coach was not included,
but the MTA-LIRR terminated the Road n' Rail contract, and decided to run
their own buses using MSBA buses and drivers. As it turned out, some paper
shuffler at MTA HQ forgot that MSBA had no coaches or suburban buses
needed on those two routes.
MSBA had to contract with Schenck to operate the Road n' Rail service until MSBA got delivery of new GMC Suburban’s. As for the Huntington Coaches GMC buses, the following list of Huntington Coach Transit, & Suburban Coaches, compiled by my good friend & fellow bus driver Fred McGullam, Motor Bus Society secretary depicts where the buses went.
368-370 to Riverdale Transit as 381-383
Riverdale Transit as 369-371
Road n' Rail Tickets & Cash Fare Receipt Forms
The scanned cash fare receipts tell the story of how the service was initiated and was modified over the years.
Form BS-1 shows the initial service points from Huntington to Greenport, including non-railroad related stops at several mid-island points (e.g., Ridge). The date I have for the first run is April 7, 1962 (see first day ticket sold in Jamaica that day).
Form BS-2 (the scan is of my ticket for the first run on June 8, 1963) was used for the South Shore service to Montauk including stops at abandoned rail stops Eastport and East Moriches. The railroad couldn't use Babylon as the (logical) transfer point due to the grade crossing elimination work in progress so Amityville was chosen for its large parking lot (for bus maneuvering) and propinquity to Sunrise Highway. See scan of my first day tickets purchased at Amityville and Southampton.
In June 1964, stops were added at Hauppauge and Middle Island on the Greenport run and Watermill on the South Shore. In issuing updated cash fare receipt forms, the railroad combined the north and south runs on one form (see BS-3).
With the completion of the Babylon elevation and Amityville's now in progress, the railroad moved the transfer point for the Montauk busses to Babylon in 1967. Form BS-4 was issued to reflect that change.
In 1969, the Smith Haven stop was added on the Greenport run so Form BS-5 was issued to add that stop.
January of 1970, I was off to Navy service and don't have many specifics
of changes made after that. In 1973 some of the mid-island
stops were discontinued (see scans of some tickets
NOTE: The LIRR Road-n-Rail buses did not make all of their scheduled stops at LIRR train stations. For example, the buses for the Huntington - Greenport north fork service did not stop at the Cutchogue train station, but stopped at a location on Route 25 between New Suffolk Avenue and Depot Lane. I'd estimate that location to be about one-half a mile from the train station. I do not remember if the bus stopped at the Mattituck train station, or on Route 25, seeing that Route 25 was about one and one-half blocks from the Mattituck train station. Info: John Deasy
I know that Huntington services were moved to Babylon and that the busses were eventually eliminated. The open form of rail-bus tickets (see scan) had an option to route via Ronkonkoma as well as Huntington though I can't recall ever seeing that ever used in practice.
Western terminal stations and those served by the busses issued the combination rail and bus tickets. Bus-only tickets were sold there as well. (See scans for examples of both.)
For passengers boarding busses at non-rail stations, the bus drivers sold rail tickets to Jamaica, Brooklyn and New York (only) from pads clipped to the dash (see scans); no date validation was made. In the 1970's, the large forms were replaced by smaller size tickets (see scan) similar to the 1H and 1BH rail forms.
my years of selling these tickets in Jamaica (primarily), Brooklyn and New
York, the reactions of passengers to being routed by rail and
bus varied from glee to despair! People either loved the busses
(the fares WERE cheaper) or hated them.
Except were noted, all material/information: Brad Phillips
Except were noted, all material/information: Brad Phillips
Road-n-Rail is an interesting chapter in LIRR history, I
emphasize interesting, as it was not a good time frame for East End service.
Road-n-Rail was born from the LIRR, like most railroads, loosing their postal transport contracts by the mid-60's. Carrying mail was one way to justify some of the east end services. With the mail contracts gone, bus service was one way to continue service to eastern stations. However, with the reduced train schedules came reduced maintenance, and extended trip times.
Yet, Road-n-Rail was becoming self defeating since areas of central Suffolk started to develop, and the busses started to have problems keeping to schedules. This was also the time frame when the Hampton Jitney started up as a village to village shuttle, but quickly discovered their Hamptons to Manhattan service was fast becoming popular, so popular that they dropped the village to village shuttle to focus on it, and it developed into what we have today.
Finally, after repeated threats of abandonment, the Speonk to Montauk segment was rebuilt in the late 1970's, and the project was completed in time for the summer timetable of 1980. All remaining Montauk Branch Road-n-Rail service ended with this timetable. Research by: Ken Allan
All Info/photos courtesy of: Daniel Marra, Sr. unless otherwise noted.