Advocacy for local riders continues
On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) implemented service changes to the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) that increased service to Penn Station and added more direct service to Brooklyn.
The Port Washington branch was among several branches to receive new timetables, adding additional late evening trains from Penn Station on the Port Washington branch.
Town of North Hempstead Councilmember Mariann Dalimonte (District 6), Town of North Hempstead Councilmember Veronica Lurvey (District 4) and NYS Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti spearheaded this project to get additional evening trains added to Port Washington’s train schedule.
Since the MTA launched full service to Grand Central in February, commuters and other frequent LIRR riders have complained about the new schedules to accommodate service to Grand Central. Train times were split between Penn Station and Grand Central, altering many people’s daily commute and cutting their train time options in half.
“Ever since the MTA first proposed changes to the train schedules, I have been working to ensure our commuters’ voices were heard,” said Assemblywoman Sillitti.
In addition to regular commuters, other LIRR patrons experienced struggles to get late-night trains home from Penn on the Port Washington branch.
“I remember getting an email from several residents that they went to a Broadway play, and for them to get home was a disaster,” said Councilmember Dalimonte. “People going to the Knicks games, the Rangers games and events at Madison Square Garden were experiencing the same thing. We were all so used to going to Penn Station only, then some of these trains were at Grand Central.”
“While there is still more to be done, one change that had been highlighted by both our survey and at a community town hall meeting, was the lack of late evening trains from Penn Station for shows and sporting events,” said Assemblywoman Sillitti.
Penn Station is right below Madison Square Garden, and for people seeing Broadway plays, Penn Station is also the closest station. People in the city enjoying a sports game, concert or show were getting to Penn and realizing their train times home were very limited, leading them to wait for trains for much longer periods of time.
“Part of the beauty of living along the Port Washington branch is that you have an easy commute into the city, and the cultural events are just as important,” said Councilmember Lurvey. “And as a result of bringing in the Grand Central Station and the changes to the schedule, there has been a negative impact on our ability to access New York City and the cultural and sporting events.”
Great Neck, Manhasset and Port Washington residents contacted their local representatives for help.
Councilmember Dalimonte, Councilmember Lurvey and Assemblywoman Sillitti heard the complaints and set up meetings with representatives from the LIRR to advocate for more late-evening trains.
“It was a wonderful thing that we were able to work with the Long Island Railroad to reintroduce some of those night trains,” said Councilmember Lurvey.
A press release from the MTA explained that the LIRR has been analyzing ridership data and customer feedback since full service to Grand Central started earlier this year. After making many minor adjustments to match their service demand as quickly as possible, the LIRR made this more significant timetable change to better match demand and accommodate customer requests.
According to a press release from the MTA, the following schedule changes were made to the Port Washington branch:
The 6:08 and 6:11 p.m. weekday trains from Grand Central will be combined into one train, making all stops to Port Washington.
On weeknights from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. and on weekend mornings from midnight to 7 a.m., all trains will run to and from Penn Station instead of Grand Central.
While securing the additional evening trains is a success for Councilmember Dalimonte, Councilmember Lurvey and Assemblywoman Sillitti, their advocacy is ongoing.
“I am grateful the LIRR has been taking our concerns seriously. They promised when the original schedule came out, changes would be made if necessary to improve service and I will continue to make sure they keep their word,” said Assemblywoman Sillitti. “I remain hopeful they will to listen to their commuters and make additional improvements on the Port Washington Line. “
“We still have other requests that we put in with the Long Island Rail Road,” said Councilmember Dalimonte. “We are grateful to the Long Island Rail Road for listening to our concerns, and we know they will continue to work with us to improve the schedules. I feel like this is just the beginning; it’s not the end.”
Another concern from residents that Councilmember Dalimonte, Councilmember Lurvey and Assemblywoman Sillitti plan to work on is more express trains for commuters in the morning. Councilmember Dalimonte also mentioned that stopping at Citi Field so often on the Port Washington branch doesn’t seem necessary and should be scheduled around events at the location.
In addition to Councilmember Dalimonte, Councilmember Lurvey and Assemblywoman Sillitti’s continued advocacy, the MTA assures they will continue to update their services.
“We’ll continue to analyze our service to see where we can make additional adjustments in future timetable changes,” said a press release from the MTA.
Visit https://nyassembly.gov/mem/Gina-L-Sillitti/story/104867 to take an LIRR survey.