An Exhausting Dependence

Bus Cuts on Long Island and Their Impact on Riders

About the Story

I remember when my parents first mentioned the bus. It was in relation to my first job, a Lifeguard at SplishSplash waterpark in Calverton. I live in Shoreham, a small hamlet on the North Shore. We were small enough that we shared our school district with the neighboring town of Wading River. I remember in High School how the parking lot would fill up with cars by the earliest point in the morning, how they would line up down the winding road that led to the school like tired and peeved lemmings. The community in Shoreham was wealthy enough that so many of those kids got their parents to buy them their first car. I wasn’t one of those.

So when I was 16 I started taking the bus to get to work. I took the s62, the bus that ran near my house. It was the summer, and the sun was often blazing hot. The bus stop was positioned right in front of a sod farm. There was no shade around, so I would sit in the dry grass, there in my small red bathing suit and white t-shirt with the bugs whining in my ears as I waited for the bus.

That bus was always late. Every single time. It was summer, and the county road 25A was always jammed up, especially as cars got into Wading River. To get to work on time, I would take a bus an hour earlier than I would normally have to for my shift. But you wouldn’t dare think about being late to the bus stop because there was always that slim chance the bus might actually be on time, even worse be early. The bus could be late, but you sure as hell could not.

Two summers in a row I took that bus. Twice I accidentally boarded the wrong bus and had to find a way back home with my small dime bag of change to put me on a transfer. Several times I sat at the bus stop, and the bus never showed.

As soon as my brother and I bought a car together, we never even thought of riding the bus again, despite how much we paid in gas.

But I still remember some of the riders. At certain times, there were always two men who took the s62 at the same time. They knew each other and they talked. I remember the light flashing through the gaps in the trees as the bus sped through, and depsite how much of a headache bending your schedule around the buses was, at least you could sit back in your seat relinquished of your anxiety of other drivers, with the stink of chlorine clinging to your skin, mingle with your thoughts.

For this project I talked to 32 riders along with 25 officials, advocates and experts. I was about 18 hours in total riding the bus around Long Island for approximately 228 miles.

 

About Me

Kyle Barr is a journalist and writer from Long Island, New York. He has been writing stories and articles for the past several years.

Along with countless other news stories, he has written articles about modern arcades, comedians, and a new Nikola Tesla museum in his home town. Last year he wrote a narrative piece about Civil War reenactors in the context of tensions over the Confederate Flag. In 2016 he wrote another long form piece about the loss of duck farms on Long Island, specifically looking at the history and people who long for that time and identity.

In Spring 2016 he worked as an intern for the Long Island Business News, where he reported on many business related subjects such as copyright and small businesses. One of his favorite works about the notable increase of bookstores on Long Island, and how books today still remain popular.

In Summer, 2016, he traveled to Seoul, South Korea with the Stony Brook School of Journalism and wrote several articles on subjects including students and studying habits, the Sewol protests and the DMZ between north and south.