In Media: Free Shuttle to Offer Trips to Long Island Sound Beaches For Those Lacking Rides
Long Island Sound (Research) - News

Stony Brook professors Elizabeth Hewitt, left, and Anil Yazici at West Meadow Beach in Stony Brook, one of the spots that users of their new shuttle program can visit. Credit: James Carbone / Newsday

— By Carl MacGowan for Newsday

Stony Brook, NY, April 9, 2023 - Long Island is world-famous for the sandy sanctuaries that bring relief on sweltering summer days.

But for some Long Islanders — because of lack of transportation, low incomes or both — a day at the beach is no day at the beach.

That's the theory behind a pilot program and academic study two Stony Brook University professors are launching this summer.

Elizabeth Hewitt and Anil Yazici are developing a shuttle system to bring people to North Shore beaches that otherwise might be inaccessible to them. They said the system will use leased vehicles and a ride-share model that will let users request round trip service between their homes and the Long Island Sound beach of their choice.

"Disadvantaged populations tend to live far away from beaches to begin with," said Hewitt, 43, a professor in the Department of Technology and Society. "Maybe they can easily get to work because there’s a bus within the neighborhood context, but they can’t get to the North Shore … We’re hoping to just kind of explore that a little bit and create a means for excluded populations to get to a resource.”

Participants will be dropped off at their chosen beaches, which will resolve another problem: paying for parking, Hewitt and Yazici said. They also plan to use county and state beaches, where more specific residency restrictions won't be an issue, for the pilot program.

While bus or train service is available for Jones Beach and some other South Shore beaches, that's not always the case on the North Shore, which is the focus of the Stony Brook study. A $470,000 grant from the nonprofit New York Sea Grant program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Long Island Sound Study is funding the initiative.

Yazici, 43, a native of Turkey, said Long Island's public transportation system contains inherent limitations that he blamed on the Island's geography and suburban landscape.

“This shuttle idea is mostly from my mind because I know how it is in Istanbul," said Yazici, a civil engineering professor. "It’s difficult to run transit systems on Long Island because there isn’t urban density.”

The service will be publicized at public libraries, which serve a wide variety of users, the professors said.

Participants will be asked to complete surveys before and after their trips to gauge changes in their attitudes about going to the beach. The surveys also will help the professors assess pickup schedules, travel routes, the popularity of different beaches and how much users are willing to pay for the service, they said.

Lack of beach access is a significant issue that marginalizes some Long Islanders because they can't take advantage of a resource most people take for granted, said Adrian Fassett, president of The Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk, Inc.

The Patchogue nonprofit offers job, health care and housing assistance to more than 5,000 clients whose incomes are in the lowest 20% of Long Islanders.

"I think it’s a great idea,” Fassett said of the shuttle program. “The beaches on Long Island are national treasures. Why can't low-income people enjoy this national treasure?”

More on North Shore beach shuttle service

• Stony Brook University professors Anil Yazici and Elizabeth Hewitt are developing the service as part of a research project

• It's called “Equitable access to Long Island Sound waterfront and beaches through on-demand mobility”

• They'll promote the shuttle at libraries

• Shuttle users can call for a pickup to get rides to and from the North Shore beach of their choice

• Users will do surveys to help study attitude changes about going to the beach and help design future shuttle schedules and fees

• For more information, email or

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