Methods of transportation
Stony Brook University is located about half way down Long Island on the north shore in the Three Village area including the townships of Poquott, Setauket, Stony Brook, Saint James, Head of the Harbor, and Old Field. Getting to Stony Brook University is challenging relative to getting places in New York City (or any other major metropolitan area really). However, there are several reliable ways of getting around or to the Stony Brook area.
Modes of Transportation
Stony Brook Transit (Bus Service)
A free bus service is available on campus. The latest bus to the Chapin Apartments graduate housing area leaves from the center of campus around 11PM. Available resources are a bus schedule, online interactive map, and smartphone apple app and android app.
Additionally, there is a public Suffolk County Bus system which is free on Saturdays with a student ID and is somewhat cheaper ($1.25) on other days with the student ID. A large scale map is available here. Unfortunately, they don't run very late and the transfers are useless for taking the same bus back. Drivers only accept them if you are truly doing a transfer.
The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) has multiple lines that reach down Long Island, one of which (the Port Jefferson line) has a station right on campus, near the physics building. The Port Jefferson line has stations nearby in Port Jefferson Station, Saint James, and Smithtown (all around 6 or so miles from campus, with a number of apartments and houses available in the vicinity of these stations). Quite a few students take the train daily to school from the nearby towns, and some professors and students even arrange to use the train to come to school all the way from New York City (an approximately 2 hour train ride with at least one transfer in Huntington and sometimes in Hicksville or Jamaica). The LIRR is separate from the subway system, but both are operated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). The train costs about $13 for a one way ticket from Stony Brook to Penn Station in Manhattan, and costs $3.50 for a one way ticket to Port Jefferson Station although the conductors almost never check for this short distance ticket. An LIRR train that goes to and from the city much faster is the Ronkonkoma line, which has an electrified rail. However, it's about 10 miles south of Stony Brook so to go this route, you'll need access to a vehicle.
If you intend to use the train often you can buy a 10-trip package (the trips expire in 6 months) or monthly tickets which can be significantly cheaper. If the train is just about to leave when you get to the platform and you don't have time to buy a ticket at the machine (there is often a line), try to buy a ticket on your phone at the start of the trip. If you have to buy a ticket off the conductor, it will cost about $5 more. They punish people for not having the app.
Long Island is not New York City, and as such it is much more difficult to get around. Most basic tasks like shopping, going to offices to fill out paperwork, or just having fun will require some means of transportation, and the simplest and most convenient if you live off of campus is owning your own car.
If you own a car you must do several required things including
- Getting insurance (~$150 a month for a reasonably old car)
- Obtaining a driver's license
- Paying for a registration and license plate on the car (~$50 depending on the kind of car)
- Getting an inspection sticker at a licensed auto-repair store (~$50)
- Maintaining and servicing your car (New tires every 2 years or so, oil change every 6 months or 3000 miles - these costs add up really fast)
If you buy a car it is best to get a used car, but it is also very easy to get scammed by someone selling a terrible car, so be carefull!
Some students that live off campus will buy a car together and share it, thus cutting the cost a lot.
New York drivers are not the best drivers in America, so if you are not from the area you should probably be careful until you learn their quirks
- If the sign says 30 MPH people may go mean 50 MPH
- Turn blinkers are often neglected
- Lights often have no turn on red signs and for good reason, but some people do not use them, so be careful there
- There's lots more, so keep your eyes open
For students living on campus, if you own a car, you will be required to buy a resident's permit in order to park on campus.
Students living off-campus will be required to get either a Faculty/Staff Permit (for TA's/RA's) or a Commuter Pass (all others).
Please visit the Parking Services website in order to apply for parking permits, and for a map of the various Parking Lots.
Parking enforcement is quite strict on campus, and you will incur a minimum fine of $30 for parking violations.
An inexpensive and healthy mode of transportation is biking. It is 100% possible to get around the Stony Brook area with a bike. This option can be the best if it takes you 1 hour or longer to walk to campus.
[Costs] A good road bike generally costs around $200-$600, and standard additional gear costs around $100-$250. Here is some gear that you should buy:
- Front and back lights, to see and be seen ($30-$50)
- Helmet ($20-$60)
- Bike lock ($10-$30)
- Spare tubes - you should always have 3 spares at home. ($30-$50)
- Tire/Tube repair tools ($30-$60)
[Safety] If you follow proper safety practices, biking can be very safe and enjoyable. However if you do not, it can be very dangerous. You should read through all of the following safety tips before biking here on Long Island.
- The absolute most important safety principle is prevention.
- First and foremost, always be alert. Always try to anticipate possible dangers, and do not get distracted while biking.
- Avoid biking in unfamiliar areas. Ideally you should know your route as well as you know your own handwriting. Obviously this knowledge comes with time though.
- Avoid biking with or through traffic. This means avoiding major roads, and biking at times when traffic is lower (i.e. not at 9am or 6pm on weekdays).
- Use lights on the front and back of your bike. You would be surprised at how easy it is for a driver to not see you, even in broad daylight. Also, if you don't use lights, people around here may yell profanities at you.
- Learn how to safely fall or jump off your bike at moderate speeds. You should probably practice this on grass - or learn by experience.
- Tie your shoes, and tuck your shoelaces into your shoe. Otherwise your shoelaces can get caught on the pedal or gears.
- Because bikers are scarce here, nobody really knows the proper hand signals that bikers should use for turning. Therefore, it's probably better for you to signal your turns in some other obvious way.
- Wearing brightly colored clothes or reflective materials while biking at night can make you substantially more visible to cars passing by.
- The second most important safety principle is protection.
- A good helmet can be the difference between a scratch and permanent brain damage. A bike fall is generally too fast for you to protect your head, so if you care about your safety you should always bike with a helmet.
- If you are travelling in an especially dangerous or unfamiliar area, consider using elbow pads, knee pads, and/or gloves. A large gash on a dirty Long Island road can easily lead to an infection.
- Always have a phone with you, in case of an emergency.
- The bike shop across campus (Campus Bicycle) is reasonable
- You will definitely run into situations where biking and using public transport are impractical. For these situations, it will help a lot to have a nice friend with a car. Plan ahead for this, and befriend some nice people with cars.
- Try not to get the chains of your bike wet. This will increase the rate at which they rust, and therefore degrade. If it's raining, try not to bike.
- Unless you have a specialty bike, do not even try to bike through the snow. It's basically impossible.
If you have further questions, feel free to ask Arthur (firstname.lastname@example.org) about this possibility. He did this for his first two years here.
Main article: Getting to Stony Brook#Airports
Ride Hailing (Taxis, Uber, Lyft)
Both Lyft and Uber currently operate in Suffolk County. You can use them by installing the respective app on your phone and signing in. It may take 10 minutes or more for the car to arrive after you hail it, and short-distance trips in this area cost around $10.
The most commonly-used taxi company in this area is Lindy's Taxi. You can reach a dispatcher at 631-675-2828 (Stony Brook area) 631-473-0707 (Port Jeff area), among others. There also are often cabs waiting at the train station when trains arrive, though if you do not call ahead of time and there isn't already a cab there it can take up to an hour to get a cab.
Islandwide Transportation also provides a taxi service, though you have to make a reservation (not necessarily in advance).If you find yourself at Islip Airport there are cabs available right there from Village Taxi.
- It costs more (the "peak" ticket) if you're going to the city early in the morning or from the city in the late afternoont/early evening. However, if you don't remember to buy this ticket, the conductor will just charge you the difference on the train. So it's perfectly safe to always buy off-peak.