There is a lot left to be desired' Grand Central Madison train service creates LIRR commuter headaches - Gothamist

Ken Lieber used to take the LIRR from Oceanside on Long Island directly into Atlantic Terminal for his teaching position located in Carroll Gardens. But , as of the LIRR’s new schedules , which were announced this week, he’s had to change trains at Jamaica Station every morning.

“I often gushed about the commute I took and how I enjoyed it. However, I’m no longer able to be a fan,” Lieber told Gothamist on Tuesday. “The trains are more congested, so I’m stuck into a sardine, and paying $277 a month , which is almost nothing.”

The MTA has launched its full-service to Grand Central Madison on Monday and will bring the possibility of 24 trains every hour to the new station located on the city’s East Side set deep beneath Grand Central Terminal. MTA officials have said that the complete introduction of schedules to the new station will result in an increase of 40% in service to the LIRR on days off. However, it will require the MTA to shift certain trains that used to provide service to Penn Station or Atlantic Terminal to the new station, requiring certain passengers who would travel directly to these stations to switch to Jamaica.

The frustrations grew on Tuesday, when an issue with the signal caused the MTA to switch certain LIRR trains headed to Grand Central to Penn Station.

Tracey Chavis got on a train with problems with service and she left Atlantic Terminal late on her way back home on Tuesday afternoon. She was used to taking one train right to her house however, she now needs to change trains to Jamaica.

“And you know what? The train heading into Queens has already left Jamaica station, which meant that I was not able to take the train for an additional 20 minutes, which means I’m still waiting on the train to return to home,” she told Gothamist in a train station in Jamaica.

If trains arrive on time, the train operator must run between platforms in order to connect in time. This includes squeezing into an escalator that is packed or going onto the mezzanine, and then traversing several tracks and then back to the bottom of an additional set of steps.

“We have two minutes to make it all the way to track 12 which is four tracks higher,” she said. “Instead of having the track located on the next platform which we could walk there instead, we must climb the escalators or up the steps to the train. This will take us two minutes to reach it before closing the doors.”

A number of commuters expressed their concern about the work involved in making transfer.

“What do you do if you’re suffering from medical problems? What happens if you’ve got problems that make it difficult for you to run at a high speed?” Chavis said.

The MTA announced plans to change the LIRR’s schedules earlier in the year and was planning to launch the new service by year 2022’s end. However, another set of issues in the long-delayed project set back the launch by more than two months. And the MTA provided passengers only three to four weeks’ advance notice prior to when the schedules were finally changed.

“What we’ve attempted to do is serve the largest number of customers we can. We’re offering 41% more services across the board than before. We’re providing many transfer options and a greater frequency, and a lot more flexibility with regards to the way our customers travel within the region, and regional connectivity from Grand Central to Metro-North, which is why it’s different,” said Catherine Rinaldi President of Metro-North Railroad and interim president of Metro-North Railroad and interim president of the LIRR in an interview on WCBS 880, Monday. “And I think that people will become accustomed to these changes. We’ll be able to find trips that suit their needs.”

Dean Morelli takes the LIRR from Long Beach to Atlantic Terminal. He was on Tuesday when he complained that the launch of new timeslots could be confusing and he’s missed several trains.

“There’s an advantage of having trains go towards Grand Central. I hope it helps make this city back up by making it easier for passengers to get to Grand Central but the execution leaves much to be wanted,” he told Gothamist. “Tonight I’m taking an additional forty-five minutes.”

The MTA’s efforts in bringing LIRR trains into the Manhattan’s East Side dates back to the 1960s. MTA officials restarted construction on this project during the late 1990s after it was put on hold. In 2001, they had anticipated that the new service would be launched in 2011, at a cost in the range of $4.3 billion. The service’s launch was almost 12 years behind, and was more than seven billion more than budget.