LIRR Changes Disrupt Oyster Bay, Huntington Commutes
By Thomas Nothel New Long Island Railroad schedules took effect on Monday February 27th, coinciding with the official opening of the new LIRR Grand Central Madison station. But the new schedules are creating havoc - with mob scenes at Jamaica terminal - and are adding up to an hour to the commute of Oyster Bay and Huntington commuters. To accommodate the new trains now going to Grand Central Terminal, the LIRR made numerous schedule and track changes – and forced many more passengers to transfer trains at Jamaica. For commuters and other LIRR riders traveling to the east side of Manhattan - to the new Grand Central terminal - there are some real time savings. But for those going to Penn Station on the west side, or to the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, the week was filled with inconvenient schedule changes, crowded shorter route trains, crowded platforms in Jamaica, and numerous chaotic track changes at Jamaica, Penn Station and Grand Central. This caused many frustrated riders to be late for work, and added up to a hour to many people's commutes. A change to mostly “shuttle service” from Jamaica to Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn – trains not going beyond those two stations - was also a huge issue, with a lack of timely service, not enough train service and crowded trains. Riders were making a mad dash to up and down the escalators at Jamaica to hopefully catch their Atlantic terminal connection. Oyster Bay was particularly hard hit, with riders on the Oyster Bay line complaining they do not get the service they deserve from the Long Island Rail Road. Some Oyster Bay commuters have resorted driving to stations on other train lines including Manhasset, Port Washington and Syosset for better service. Oyster Bay Line commuters have started a petition on change.org asking for improvements including additional train service. At last look it had over 1,800 signatures. With the new schedules many Oyster Bay Line commuters are frustrated by cancellation of their favorite trains and much longer train rides. For example: the 4:49 pm train from Penn Station (4:56 from Atlantic Terminal) to Oyster Bay has been replaced by a train leaving at 4:24. Many who rode the 4:49 cannot get out of work in train to catch that early train. But the next train is an hour later. A commuter who caught the 6:43 from Glen Cove now has to catch a 6:36 train, and the scheduled ride time is 8 minutes longer. That is an additional 40 minutes one way of commuting a week plus leaving for the station at least 8 minutes earlier. The Long Island Rail Road counters by saying 4 weekday trains have been added to the Oyster Bay Line, increasing service from 28 to 32 trains. 32 is the total number of trains each weekday, peak and off peak. The total number of peak trains did not change according to the LIRR website. Beginning March 6, the LIRR has made improvements to the train service including adding cars to crowded trains and increasing service from Jamaica to Atlantic Terminal. The MTA promises to “continue to monitor and study and the issues and make additional improvement to the service…”
Let’s hope the MTA means it, and resolves the many issues soon for Oyster Bay and all LIRR riders.