By Delia DeRiggi-WhittonNassau County Legislator
Done correctly, direct Long Island Railroad access to Manhattan’s east side will be a tremendous catalyst for the prosperity of our region. Unless the proposed schedule for the Oyster Bay line is revised, however, I am deeply concerned that the City of Glen Cove’s ongoing revitalization will be left waiting at the station.
Upon the completion of the nearly $12 billion East Side Access capital project, LIRR trains will have direct access to the new Grand Central Madison terminal between 43rd and 48th Streets starting this December, according to MTA officials. But under draft schedules that were published earlier this month, Oyster Bay line commuters - including many residents of the City of Glen Cove - would be forced to contend with disruptions to well-established, cohesive service to Manhattan, Long Island City, and especially Brooklyn.
The current proposed schedule eliminates the busiest weekday trains leaving Penn Station and Brooklyn at 4:54 and 4:56 p.m. respectively and replaces them with 4:23 and 5:22 p.m. trains. For morning commuters, it eliminates the three-way transfer option that allows commuters through Jamaica station to easily access the Brooklyn Atlantic Terminal, Manhattan’s Penn Station or Long Island City’s Hunters Point Avenue terminal. Worse yet, it eliminates many timed connections at Jamaica, increases wait times at a transfer hub that is ill equipped to be a waiting area for commuters, and requires riders to use a far-flung track to catch a train to Brooklyn.
Reliable, logical mass transit is essential if we are to maintain the appeal of Glen Cove’s residential housing stock for young professionals who rely on train service for their employment. Glen Cove has added more than 700 apartments in recent years and has another 800 to 1,000 units in the pipeline as a central component of its ongoing revitalization plan. Any disruption to mass transit service will have a ripple effect that will surely be felt in our City and in communities all along the Oyster Bay line, and those impacts will be magnified by the dearth of peak express train service on the Port Washington line. Both issues must be addressed before schedules are finalized.
Without question, East Side Access is a major step forward for the tri-state area that ameliorates one of the largest gaps in mass transit service to and from Long Island. However, this progress should not come at the expense of commuters who rely upon the Oyster Bay line. I urge residents to make their voices heard during the MTA’s upcoming July 13 virtual public feedback meeting on the proposed schedule. From there, the MTA must apply the feedback they receive toward devising a more equitable and cohesive plan.
Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, of Glen Cove, was first elected to the Nassau County Legislature in 2011. She represents the 11th District in the Nassau County Legislature.