We asked people to think outside the lane about Long Island's transportation future. Short of the transporter on Star Trek, or personal jet packs (though we are growing impatient for our jet packs), we asked for ideas that are not quite on the drawing board, yet inspiring. A few ideas:
The Long Island subway
Sackstein hopes to someday get a $1.5-million government grant to conduct a feasibility study for the plan. He sees a pilot project beneath the Route 110 corridor.
Sackstein says people have warmed to his idea as they consider the benefit of having a train system below ground that could be expanded as needed.
"It's take on a life of its own, and it's risen to 'Well, it's expensive.' Yeah, well, OK. But is it a bad idea?"
This would be a deep-water port off the North Shore in Suffolk County.
Michael White, executive director of the Long Island Regional Planning Council, said a port could significantly reduce truck traffic by having freight shipments arrive directly by ship instead of having to be trucked out here.
"It's one of the solid answers as to how we'll move stuff on and off Long Island," said White. He says it could be built within 20 years. "There's no reason why it couldn't be."
Under the category of get-us-off this-Island, said Lee Koppelman, director of the Center for Regional Policy Studies at Stony Brook University, suggests "direct high-speed ferry service to New Haven from the Shoreham nuclear site" or a bridge to Connecticut from the northern end of the William Floyd Parkway.
"The connectors from Long Island to the mainland are totally overwhelmed," White said.
Smart cars - and roads
There's an entire very important field of human endeavor known as "intelligent transportation systems." Experts in this tell us that cars are already being developed that automatically brake or swerve to avoid accidents.
The state Department of Transportation hopes to be at the forefront of vehicle technology. As part of the World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems held in Manhattan last year, the DOT installed 46 sensors along the LIE that eventually will communicate with vehicles - potentially advising drivers if they should turn on their windshield wipers or adjust their speed.
A phone app for the train
Technology innovations also will change the way travelers pay for public transportation.
The MTA is exploring a "smart card" fare payment system that will replace the MetroCard and directly bill commuters for rides on trains and buses.
"Your phone becomes your walking E-ZPass,"Williams said. "When you look into the future, I don't think we've even begun to see what the possibilities are."
About those jetpacks
At least a couple of companies are working on this and even marketing them. Operating with a single rotor, the jetpack developed by the Martin Aircraft Company in New Zealand delivers about 600 pounds of thrust and has a 31-mile range on five gallons of fuel. They can fly as high as 8,000 feet. So far, the company envisions the jetpack for use by emergency response workers or the military.
Last month, the company announced it had signed a $12 million joint venture to begin production. Price: about $90,000.
- ALFONSO CASTILLO and BILL BLEYER