To The Editor:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced his $5.6 billion Long Island Rail Road transformation. This included $375 million for Jamaica Station Capacity Improvements, including new platforms and tracks. However, some critical details were omitted.
Thousands of daily LIRR riders will still have to change at Jamaica if they are traveling to or from the future LIRR Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station or Atlantic Terminal Brooklyn. Once LIRR service to Grand Central Terminal starts in December 2023, there will no longer be any direct through-service from Jamaica to Atlantic Terminal Brooklyn. This impacts customers on 51 peak and 84 off peak or 135 weekday trains operating between Jamaica and Brooklyn. They will have to either walk up the stairs or take an escalator or elevator from platform levels off of Jamaica Station tracks one, two or three to the mezzanine level—and then next walk across the mezzanine and down the stairs, escalator or elevator to the new tracks 9 or 10. Then, they will have to wait for the next scoot service train running between Jamaica and Atlantic Terminal on tracks 9 and 10.
They will miss the good old days when it was a simple switch walking across the platform between tracks 1 and 2 or 2 and 3 to the desired Penn Station, Atlantic Terminal, Hunters Point or Long Island City-bound train. Who knows how long the wait will be for a connecting train?
Travel time for thousands of LIRR riders bound for downtown Brooklyn, Wall Street, World Financial Center or World Trade Center or other destinations in downtown Manhattan via Atlantic Terminal will now actually have longer commutes. It is doubtful that the LIRR scoot service between Jamaica and Atlantic Terminal will be running with headways every few minutes like a subway. Imagine how long one could be waiting to or from events at the Brooklyn Barclay Center or other off-peak trains. Thousands of riders whose trains originated to or from Atlantic Terminal who once had a one-seat ride will lose this benefit. Everyone will now have to change at Jamaica.
This will especially impact those whose trains originate in Brooklyn.
One rider’s gain in time savings (being able to access work in midtown east side Manhattan via Grand Central Terminal versus Penn Station) is a corresponding loss for another rider trying to access work via Atlantic Terminal.
Larry Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office.