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Long Island

LIers on car-free living: Takes planning, causes stress, is doable

As more than 3,500 people plan to get around without an automobile today, for Long Island’s fourth annual Car-Free Day, six veteran car-free Long Islanders share some tips on how they manage.

A lot of walking, rides with friends

Keith Mainhart has foregone driving on the Island
Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Keith Mainhart has foregone driving on the Island "for the sake of the planet and his wallet."

Mainhart, 43, lives in downtown Amityville -- two blocks from the train station and four minutes from his office.

"I do a lot of walking. I walk to work, I can walk to stores. It's good exercise," said Mainhart, who chose to live in Amityville for its "walkability."

For longer trips, like when visiting his family in Bellmore, Mainhart takes the bus or will try and coordinate with friends for a ride.

"I don't really want a car. I don't want the expense or the hassle," said Mainhart, who works for a nonprofit. "On Long Island it does have its challenges but I save a lot of money and it's good for the environment."

A typical trip for Mainhart: A trip to the grocery store

Distance: a little more than a mile

Travel time: 20 minutes

Mode of transportation: Walking

Walks 'within 4 miles,' takes the bus

Marian Casper, 62, of Plainview, has always lived

Marian Casper, 62, of Plainview, has always lived on Long Island without a car. She's visually impaired and incapable of driving or even riding a bike, so she relies on trains, taxis and buses to get around.

When she worked in Hicksville, Casper arranged with a cab company to pick her up from her home every morning and take her to work.

Casper now works from home. She walks if she's "traveling anywhere within four miles" and uses the bus if she's going any farther.

"I'm fairly fortunate because I live pretty close to the bus stop. But if I lived somewhere else, I think it'd be a real hardship," Casper said.

A typical trip for Casper: From Plainview to Roosevelt Field Mall

Distance: 12 miles

Travel time: About 90 minutes

Mode of transportation: Bus

Three buses to get to work

Sarralin Bahamonde, 24, takes three buses to get

Sarralin Bahamonde, 24, takes three buses to get from her home in Patchogue to the Westfield South Shore Mall in Bay Shore, where she works.

"I save a lot of money not paying for car insurance or leasing a car," Bahamonde said. "The biggest challenge is having to plan so far in advance for trips just to make sure that I can get there on time."

Bahamonde's advice for anyone looking to commute by bus: "Get to know the bus schedules and routes and leave yourself plenty of extra time to get to your destination."

A typical trip for Bahamonde: From Patchogue to Bay Shore

Distance: About 15 miles

Travel time: 2 hours

Mode of transportation: Bus

LIRR to work, rides a bike

Zach Downing, 27, of Rockville Centre, says he
Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Zach Downing, 27, of Rockville Centre, says he lives without a car in an effort to save some money.

"It's tough for young people who work in the city and live on Long Island," Downing says. "Paying for a monthly train ticket and a parking pass is expensive, especially for people my age, who might be trying to save or pay off student debt."

Downing walks a little more than 10 minutes to the train station every morning to commute into Manhattan, where he works. He also walks to get his groceries and bikes to the library or to church.

"I'd like to see more of my generation stay on Long Island," he said. "For me, going without a car is just part of being able to stay within my budget."

A typical trip for Downing: From Rockville Centre to Manhattan

Distance: about 30 miles

Travel time: 75 minutes

Mode of transportation: LIRR, subway

Takes advantage of special services

Art Romita, 74, sold his car and stopped

Art Romita, 74, sold his car and stopped driving a few years ago because of his deteriorating vision. Since then, he says he's taken full advantage of public transportation.

Romita lives in a continued care retirement community in South Setauket and uses Suffolk County Accessible Transportation Services (SCAT), a service available for Suffolk County residents with disabilities.

"It's pretty easy. I call them 24 hours in advance, they pick me up at the front entrance and drive me almost any place in Suffolk for $4," Romita says.

When he travels into Manhattan, to catch a play or meet with friends, Romita calls for a cab to take him to the train station and rides the LIRR at the discounted senior fare.

A typical trip for Romita: From South Setauket to visit friends in Bay Shore

Distance: About 20 miles

Travel time: 30 minutes

Mode of transportation: Suffolk County Accessible Transportation Services

A long bus ride for a short distance

Aaron Watkins-Lopez, 25, is the organizer of the
Photo Credit: Newsday / Alfonso Castillo

Aaron Watkins-Lopez, 25, is the organizer of the Long Island Bus Rider's Union.

Watkins-Lopez, who has never driven and doesn't have a driver's license, takes the bus to work every morning. It takes him about an hour and a half to get from his home in Stony Brook to his office in Hauppauge -- a distance of about 10 miles, he said. Every morning, he walks about five minutes to a nearby bus stop to catch the 7:35 a.m. bus to the Smith Haven Mall. He waits about a half-hour to catch another bus, which drops him off at Oser Avenue in Hauppauge. It's a seven-minute walk from there to his office.

And because he lives so far from the grocery store, Watkins-Lopez does most of his shopping via Peapod, a home delivery service offered by Stop & Shop.

"Living on Long Island without a car means leaving the house a lot earlier and planning trips days in advance," Watkins-Lopez said.

Watkins-Lopez says he very rarely travels at night because of the limited bus service. If he does, he said he risks "getting stranded out here and having to pay $60 for a taxi."

A typical trip for Watkins-Lopez: Commute from Stony Brook to Hauppauge

Distance: about 10 miles

Travel time: 90 minutes to 2 hours

Mode of transportation: Bus


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