As local officials across the North Shore continued to speak out against proposed changes to the Port Washington branch of the Long Island Rail Road as part of the Eastern Access Project, Floral Park Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald, expressed his support for the improved service his village will receive.
Fitzgerald said Floral Park residents “will finally be able to reap the rewards” of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 3rd track project with direct access from the East Side Access Project to Grand Central Station.
Fitzgerald, in a Thursday evening hearing hosted by the agency, said proposed changes to Floral Park station result in a 50% increase in midday trains, a 20% increase in weekend train service end and more frequent stops at the station after the afternoon rush. hour.
“This will allow our residents to stay in the city longer, enjoy the event they are attending, and not have to worry about taking a train home,” Fitzgerald said.
Over the past few years, he said, residents of the Flower Park have faced various stresses and disruptions as a result of construction and improvements to the Long Island Rail Road station.
Previous flower park board meetings have been awash with concerns and complaints about crews working on the tracks longer than expected, excessive noise from construction and transporting materials, as well as allegations that which the environmental studies had not been properly submitted.
“Over the past few years, the Village of Floral Park along with its neighboring mainline villages have experienced significant construction and disruption to our daily lives,” Fitzgerald said. “The new schedules, as presented, will allow residents of the Floral Park to take advantage of the aforementioned inconveniences. The timetable projects now make life at the Floral Park even more attractive than it already is.
Despite improved service to the Hempstead branch and the overall rail system, North Shore officials pleaded with agency officials at the meeting to restore express service to the proposed schedules.
While Long Island Rail Road officials said a majority of commuters on the Port Washington line would benefit from the updated schedule, saying there would be a 70% increase in morning service and an increase by 43% in the evening, local officials and city residents said the agency should prioritize travel time for its daily commuters.
Residents and officials said the proposed schedule would starve commuters in Port Washington, Plandome, Manhasset and Great Neck by decreasing express service.
On the current schedule, there are currently six trains leaving Great Neck station between 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., officials said. Under the changes, that will be reduced to just two trains during the same peak weekday period, officials say.
North Hempstead Town Supervisor and Manhasset resident Jennifer DeSena said she had a direct impact on these changes, with family members relying on the Long Island Rail Road for travel. Countless residents, she said, told her of their respective concerns about the project and implored the agency to restore the long-running express service to its schedule.
“These proposed service reductions will impact thousands of passengers across the city and could result in decreased home values, increased congestion and an overall negative effect on quality of life,” DeSena said.
The supervisor said she had arranged a meeting between the city and Long Island Rail Road Acting President Catherine Rinaldi and other representatives from her office, saying the city was willing to repair the relationship allegedly ” tense” with the organization. DeSena said that despite a “lack of foresight and an unwillingness by previous city councils to compromise,” she is willing to hear what mutually beneficial deals can be reached between the two parties.
“As discussions continue between the LIRR and the city on this matter, I urge the LIRR to show good faith and restore these peak express service cuts,” DeSena said. “This can very easily be done by some minor changes to the proposed timetable, restoring Great Neck as the location for the local/express train split to Penn, instead of moving it to Bayside.”
MTA spokesman Sean Butler said the agency welcomes comments and concerns from residents to better understand changes to the proposed schedule, which will be finalized in December, officials say.
“We are delighted to receive so much feedback on our new schedules as part of an extensive public engagement process, including multiple public sessions, as we prepare to launch LIRR service to the East Side of Manhattan by the end of 2022,” Butler said. in a report. “The MTA’s multi-billion dollar investment in Grand Central Madison will increase service by 40%, provide hundreds of thousands of Long Island commuters with more service options, and improve both service reliability and punctuality.”
MTA spokeswoman Joanna Flores previously said in a statement that the agency was “ready to work with the city” to “provide even more services” on the Port Washington branch, noting that improvements would depend on supporting city efforts to expand train storage along the line. .
Pocket tracks, usually located at or near stations, allow trains to stop and park without using the main tracks.
Nassau officials were united in their opposition to the proposed changes. A press conference held last week in Great Neck featured bipartisan calls for the MTA to maintain the level of service quality that LIRR commuters have seen for years.
“Every day, thousands of Nassau County residents rely on the Long Island Rail Road to get to work and home,” said Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman. “Their new schedule plan makes it much more difficult for people to plan their schedule. In effect, they are cutting service.
Mayor of the Village of Great Neck, Pedram Bral, said the LIRR is a “lifeline” for many Peninsula residents and local officials who work throughout New York City.
The proposed schedule changes, he said, will negatively affect property values of homes along the Port Washington line, which includes parts of Plandome and North Hills. The few extra minutes each way on the train, he said, add up to hours a month when adults are away from their families.
“These are minutes that will accumulate and become hours that we will not spend with our loved ones,” Bral said. “We urge, collectively for everyone…to fight and ask the MTA…to bring us better public transit because we are paying high prices to live here.”
“It’s also a quality of life issue,” said North Hills Mayor Marvin Natiss. “If you have to go into town and have to spend an extra half hour on a train or an extra 20 minutes on the train each way, you’ll spend less time with your family.”