The upcoming cuts to peak weekday Long Island Rail Road service in Bayside have left commuters outraged, yet the MTA said the brief inconvenience will result in long-term improvements.
From July 22 to August 16, the LIRR will cancel five rush-hour trains including the westbound 7:55 a.m. train from Little Neck and 8 a.m. train from Bayside to Penn Station. The cancellations are due to construction on the East Side Access mega-project in Sunnyside.
The cuts have left Austin Shafran, candidate for the City Council District 19, calling on the MTA to provide alternatives during the construction period that would leave commuters with a 46-minute gap between trains.
“The MTA’s unnecessary and irresponsible decision to cancel service will force even more people onto overcrowded trains, turning a difficult situation into a dangerous ride for commuters,” said Shafran, who began gathering signatures on Wednesday, July 17 to send to the MTA. “Northeast Queens is already a transit desert, yet facing the hottest month of the year, the MTA is further taking away vital access to mass transit that commuters rely on.”
In a letter to the MTA, Shafran suggested temporarily converting the 7:47 a.m. express train from Great Neck to a semi-express train stopping at Little Neck at 7:50 a.m. and Bayside at 8:01 a.m.
However, according to Aaron Donovan, MTA deputy director for external communications, the LIRR will provide a train 33 minutes earlier and 12 minutes later from the peak hour trains. He also said in the long run, the construction will help bring less congestion and delays.
“In the end, this will make things easier by providing a new destination in Manhattan on the east side under Grand Central,” said Donovan. “It will help decongest a very critical part of our railroad. The work associated with this track outage will help provide a new route so that Amtrak and the LIRR will no longer interfere with each other in Sunnyside.”