LIRR express service on Port Washington branch in jeopardy due to East Side Access

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Wednesday, July 20, 2022
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The Nassau Legislature and other officials are demanding the MTA not eliminate express train service on the Port Washington branch of the LIRR. Johnny Fernandez has the story.

MINEOLA, Nassau County (WABC) -- The Nassau Legislature and other officials are demanding the MTA not eliminate express train service on the Port Washington branch of the Long Island Rail Road.

Recently, the MTA announced it is considering eliminating peak hour express train service from Great Neck, Manhasset, Plandome and Port Washington.

It's part of its new proposed schedule for Grand Central Madison East Side Access.

The elimination of the service, which has been running on the Port Washington line for over 100 years, will affect numerous villages and commuters who live in the North Hempstead area.

Officials say the reduction of express trains will increase commuting times for residents to get into New York City, adding to their time spent waiting for trains and on the trains themselves.

The only alternative to these trains is driving, where commuters will have to spend money on gas, tolls and parking, spend time in traffic, and eventually have to deal with the upcoming "congestion pricing" commuter tax.

Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip and Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello joined with County Executive Bruce Blakeman, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jen DeSena, town councilpeople and numerous village mayors to demand the MTA not enact this plan.

The officials want a commitment to restoring the peak hour express trains on the Port Washington Branch.

"Commuters from Long Island provide millions of dollars to the MTA via expensive ticket prices and taxes," a press release from Nassau County said. "The current plan penalizes train riders in North Hempstead, and increases the number of vehicles on the road."

The MTA says the change will help with service for the East Side Access, and M3 railroad cars will be used.

"Just the other day, the MTA stated that they're taking railroad cars out of mothballs from the 1980s," Blakeman said. "Railroad cars that are almost 50 years old, and they're putting it back into service. Why? Because of mismanagement."

The MTA says the M3 railroad cars are safe, used on Metro-North and are maintained for service. Up to 11% of the overall LIRR fleet will use M3 railroad cars beginning August 1.

The new proposal could add up to 8 minutes to a rider's commute, and riders say they're not happy about that.

"I'm not sure I would even live here even had the commute times been that long," commuter Ian Rasmussen said.

The MTA says the multibillion dollars investment on the LIRR will increase overall service by 40% and provide long islanders more travel options and improved on time performance.

But back on Long Island, leaders and commuters just want a fair agreement.

Future meetings on the topic will be held on:

- Thursday, August 4: 6pm - 8pm

- Thursday, August 11: 6pm - 8pm

Members of the public wishing to speak at the meetings should register at new.mta.info/grandcentralmadison. Registered speakers will be limited to 250 per meeting. Registration to speak August 4 will open July 28. Registration to speak August 11 will open August 4.

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