Tag Archives: LIRR

DiNapoli: LIRR strike could cost $50M a day


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Map courtesy the MTA


It could be a total lose-lose situation.

Not only will 300,000 riders be denied LIRR service in the event of a strike, but the work stoppage could cost up to $50 million each day in economic activity, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said Tuesday.

“A LIRR strike would cause headaches and financial hardships for riders and businesses. It would also be another devastating blow to a region that is still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy and the recession,” DiNapoli said. “Both sides must go the extra mile to reach a reasonable settlement so we can avoid the costly impact of a strike and the millions of dollars in lost economic activity.”

DiNapoli said the strike would impact people who use the railroad to connect to attractions in the city, such as Broadway shows, restaurants and shopping. It would also deter people from reaching spots on Long Island such as beaches, golf courses and wineries.

Despite the gloomy economic forecast, there seems to be no sign of an agreement forthcoming.

On Monday talks again derailed between the eight unions that represent the LIRR workers and MTA officials, which prompted union lead negotiator Anthony Simon to say that “the strike will begin 12:01 a.m. this Sunday.”

MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said that there is a “gulf” between the transportation agency and the unions and “until they’re ready to move there’s no reason to have negotiations.”

The MTA will release an advertisement on Wednesday on radio stations and newspapers asking the unions “when is enough, enough?”

 

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LIRR unions: Strike will happen on Sunday


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Sara Touzard


Talks once again broke down between the MTA and LIRR union representatives on Monday and with no further negotiations scheduled, the looming workers’ strike will occur, according to union officials.  

“I regret to report that negotiations have collapsed with MTA, and all eight unions are now proceeding with strike plans for July 20,” said Anthony Simon, the lead negotiator representing the unions. “The strike will begin 12:01 a.m. this Sunday.”

About 5,400 workers are expected to go on strike starting on July 20, leaving 300,000 riders stranded daily.

The MTA released a contingency plan on Friday to address options for thousands of riders.

MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said on Monday that there is a “gulf” between the agency and the unions, which stems from the payment of employee health benefits.

LIRR workers would see a 17 percent wage increase over seven years in the MTA’s latest offer, but be required to pay toward health care costs, which employees currently don’t.

Also, future employees would pay higher rates toward health care and pensions than current ones. The unions argue that the deal would hurt future workers and they maintain that they want 17 percent raises stretched over six years.

Prendergast said that the unions haven’t budged at all during negotiations.

“We have moved three times,” he said. “Until they’re ready to move there’s no reason to have negotiations.”

 

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What to do if there is an LIRR strike


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Metropolitan Transportation Authority


Subways, shuttle buses, and even ferries– the MTA is pulling out all the stops to supplement LIRR service in case 5,400 workers strike starting on July 20.

As contract negotiations with unions continue to fall apart and the impending LIRR strike draws closer each day, the MTA released its contingency plan Friday to address the 300,000 riders that would be stranded daily with the loss of the train service.

Most of the MTA’s plans focus on Long Island customers, but there are resources and tips for riders from Queens and other boroughs.

There will be 4,000 free, secured parking spots at Citi Field and an additional 3,000 spots at Aqueduct Racetrack, where drivers can drop their cars and then take the No. 7 or A trains to work. Through social media and digital platforms, such as Twitter and a LIRR mobile app, agency officials plan to update riders on how many spots are available in the lots and traffic conditions.

The transportation agency also hired 350 school buses, which lack air condition, to shuttle riders from stations in Long Island to the No. 7 train near Citi Field, the A train in Howard Beach, and also the M and R train station on Woodhaven Boulevard. The buses will run from Long Island into Queens between 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. and return to Long Island from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

There will also be ferry rides that can carry 1,000 passengers per day from Glen Cove to 34th Street in Manhattan on 40 minute rides. But the MTA warns that parking near to the ferry is very limited.

The MTA is encouraging riders to telecommute if they can work from home. According to officials, about 18,000 workers already plan to do so.

Through its free lots and shuttle buses, the transportation agency estimates it can handle about 15,000 passengers daily, more than double the 7,000 passengers daily from the 1994 LIRR strike contingency plan.

“When the LIRR unions went on strike in 1994, Long Islanders had very limited options. There were no park-and-ride lots, no ferries, no real-time monitoring, no telecommuting,” said MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast. “Today, the MTA has a far stronger, more robust, multifaceted plan. Working with the state and elected officials from across Long Island and the city of New York, we are providing more shuttle buses, thousands of parking spots near subway stations, a ferry service, real-time traffic management and real-time parking monitoring.”

The MTA doesn’t yet know how much per day the contingency plan will cost, and officials said they hope not to have to use it.

For more details on the plan, click here.

 

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Bayside rider sends foul message to potential LIRR strikers


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Sal Licata


With the impending LIRR worker strike only nine days away, a rider in Bayside is sending a strong message to the unions that represent the employees.

“Let the a—-h— strike. F— -em!!!” said the vulgar messages, which were spotted by The Queens Courier scattered on sidewalks and a tree near the 41st Avenue Bayside LIRR station. The letters aren’t the only proof of the building frustration for the sides to reach a deal.

THE COURIER/Photo by Mike Shain

New York congressional leaders also announced their disappointment in a statement on Friday after MTA and union officials couldn’t reach a deal on Thursday despite extensive discussions. Though their message was made in a more formal manner.

“We are pleased that representatives from labor and management spent nearly five hours negotiating on Thursday in an effort to ensure the continued operations of the Long Island Rail Road,” the New York delegation said. “We remain optimistic that an agreement can be reached without any disruption of rail service, however, we are troubled that no further negotiations are currently scheduled. We strongly urge both parties to work through the weekend to reach a deal to benefit the diverse ridership of the Long Island Rail Road.”

About 5,400 workers are planning a work stoppage as early as July 20 if the MTA and unions representing the workers don’t come to an agreement on wages, leaving about 300,000 riders stranded daily.

The MTA announced a strike contingency plan on Friday, providing alternative routes, shuttle buses and other solutions for an estimated 15,000  riders per day in case of a work stoppage.

 

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Looming LIRR strike draws closer, Congress won’t intervene


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Sara Touzard


The potential for a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) strike is moving full steam ahead as talks over wages between the eight unions representing workers and MTA officials continue to stall, and Congress said it won’t intervene.

The MTA began putting out ads in newspapers, television and radio outlets, as well as on its website and social media, to alert riders of the potential strike, which could occur as early as July 20.

MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast met with Congress members on July 9, following a failure in discussions with the National Mediation Board, but the lawmakers reportedly said it is “unlikely” that they would step in if a work stoppage occurred.

About 5,400 workers are planning to walk off the job, which would leave 300,000 riders stranded from Long Island, throughout Queens and other boroughs.

The MTA is planning “very limited,” weekday shuttle bus service to start within 24 to 48 hours of any strike, the agency said. But it warned, “Shuttle bus service should be your last resort.”

“We continue to hope that we can avoid a work stoppage at the bargaining table,”  Prendergast said. “But nevertheless, we want LIRR customers and all Long Island residents to be aware that there is a potential for a disruption of service and what that might mean.”

The MTA’s latest offer in June was for a 17 percent raise in wages, stretched over the next seven years without a change in pension. But the unions maintain that they want 17 percent raises over the next six years.

“[Prendergast] should be here in New York with the labor organizations, [not in Washington],” Anthony Simon, the lead labor negotiator, told the New York Times. “What is the chairman of the MTA doing 250 miles away from the solution?”

Governor Andrew Cuomo called for both sides to return to the bargaining table, after Congress members said they won’t step in.

“A strike is just not an option and would be a terrible failure by both the unions and the MTA,” Cuomo said. “The unions’ false belief that Congress would step in to mandate a settlement was a major impediment to any real progress. With this obstacle removed, it is now clear that the only path to resolution is at the bargaining table between the MTA and the unions, and they should proceed in good faith.”

 

 

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Douglaston station street plaza gets green light


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy the Department of Transportation

After months of negotiating, the Douglaston community will soon see its first street plaza.

Community Board 11 voted on Monday, June 16, to approve the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) plan to implement the plaza near the LIRR station on 41st Avenue in July. The agency will extend the sidewalk into the turnaround where 235th Street and 41st Avenue meet to create the public plaza, while saving the traffic loop — which was a deal-breaker with the community.

The Douglaston Local Development Corporation (LDC) contacted the DOT last year for the street plaza, hoping that it would revitalize the businesses in the community by giving pedestrians a place to walk and rest while shopping and eating.

“I don’t think it’s going to be an instant solution,” said Dorothy Matinale, president of the Douglaston Village Chamber of Commerce and a board member of the LDC. “We’ve spent the last five years trying to figure out what we can do. Now, there will be some actual fruits of our labor.”

The plan eliminates about seven parking spaces, but adds 3,000 square feet of public space, new crosswalks, plants, umbrellas with movable tables and chairs, plants and granite blocks.

The LDC will be charged with maintaining the new plaza, and they plan to do so through fundraisers and private donations.
Despite the enthusiasm surrounding the plaza by many, some in the community voiced their opposition and concern. They fear traffic in the turnaround, which will be narrower after its makeover, could be slowed or backed up.

“It appears to me that there will be enough room in the turnaround for one car to turn around and leave,” said Eliot Socci, a resident of the neighborhood for 35 years and Douglaston Civic Association president. “By clipping the edges it might back up the traffic.”

 

 

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Freight train derails near Jamaica station, affects LIRR service


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo: MTA / Patrick Cashin

Updated Thursday, May 15 7:20 a.m.

A  NY & Atlantic Railway freight train derailed just east of the Jamaica Long Island Rail Road station Wednesday, impacting transit service during the afternoon and evening commute, the MTA said.

Three cars from the freight train derailed just before 3 p.m., blocking one track, according to a spokesman for the agency.  No injuries were reported and and the cause of the derailment is under investigation.

As the evening commute started to wind down, eastbound service was operating on or close to schedule. The LIRR had to cancel four eastbound trains and delay about a dozen trains because of the derailment, according to the MTA.

The derailed cars were rerailed by the following morning, and the LIRR was operating normal rush hour service Thursday.

 

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Man fatally struck by LIRR train at Flushing-Main Street station


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Flushing LIRR

A man was killed after he apparently jumped in front of an LIRR train Wednesday night as it was pulling into the Flushing-Main Street station.

A Port Washington branch train heading to Penn Station struck the victim, identified as only an adult man, about 8:40 p.m., according to an MTA spokeswoman.

As the train slowed down and approached the stop, crew members saw the man about to jump onto the tracks, and applied the emergency brakes and blew the horn, the spokeswoman said. The train then hit the man, who did not survive.

The incident suspended service on the Port Washington branch until about 9:45 p.m., according to the MTA.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Thursday: Sun and clouds mixed. High 54. Winds W at 15 to 25 mph. Thursday night: A clear sky. Low 34. Winds W at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: LIC Partnership Networking Night

Join the LIC Partnership for our next Networking Night at See.Me. Explore the gallery’s current exhibit Year in Review, opening during Armory Arts Week. Meet your business and community neighbors over a wine and cheese tasting with wines provided by SquareWine & Spirits and cheese from LIC newcomer Artisanal Premium Cheese. Starts at 6 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Police find gun, drug stash in Sunnyside home

Cops busted a Sunnyside man Wednesday after uncovering an arsenal of guns, ammunition and drugs in his home. Read more: The Queens Courier

Queens man sold hundreds of counterfeit coins: police

A Queens man has been accused of selling hundreds of counterfeit silver dollars to three Long Island stores, police say. Read more: NBC New York

MTA to install cameras, audio recorders on MNR, LIRR trains
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Wednesday that it plans to install video cameras and audio recorders on most Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road trains. Read more: CBS New York/AP

‘Mansion Tax’ produces geyser of revenue for New York
These members of the 1 percent are bringing smiles to the state’s tax collectors. Read more: New York Post

‘Credible lead’ investigated in search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane
 Authorities say 18 ships, 29 planes and 6 helicopters are searching for two large objects deemed a “credible lead” in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight. Read more: AP

More snow on the way for Sunday


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

Updated 5:00 p.m.

 

Ol’ man winter isn’t done just yet.

The National Weather Service (NWS) forecast snow from 2 to 4 inches, starting from this evening and continuing through Monday as temperatures drop to the 20s.

The NWS warned that the snow will bring hazardous travel due to reduced visibility and slippery roads, “especially during the Monday morning commute.”

The Department of Transportation suspended alternate side parking for Monday to help with snow removal. However, parking meters remain in effect.

In preparation for inclement weather, the city’s Department of Sanitation has issued a “snow alert,” starting at 11 a.m. The agency said its plows and spreaders will be ready.

To track the progress of DSNY clearing operations throughout the five boroughs, click here.

 

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Ridgewood newsstand razed, problems persists across street


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Office of Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley

One long-standing Ridgewood problem down, and one more to go.

The troublesome newsstand on Metropolitan Avenue near Fresh Pond Road, which had been an eyesore in the community, attracting garbage and graffiti for more than two decades, has finally been taken out of sight.

The MTA/LIRR, which owned the land, demolished it on Friday with $100,000 allocated from Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley.

“After long delays from both the DOT (Department of Transportation) and LIRR, I am happy to see persistence pay off,” Crowley said.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre 

Crowley called a press conference in 2009 with Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblymember Mike Miller to announce that they would remove the structure, and transform the space into a community garden.

But those promises were derailed due to complications with the LIRR and the DOT, which both have rights to the property.

The city was reluctant to have any work done in the area, according to Crowley, because of the renovations on the nearby bridge on Metropolitan Avenue.

Community leaders appreciate that the site has finally turned a corner, but now they want elected officials to focus on the other problem — literally across the street.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre 

The DOT assumed control of the abandoned gas station on Metropolitan Avenue across from the newsstand site several years ago, but the property has also attracted graffiti. However, unlike the newsstand, the gas station is fenced in, meaning community volunteers can’t clean it up.

“The city takes available property, because they have to fix the bridge and then they let it go,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, which has cleaned up the newsstand site in the past. “They don’t keep it up, and this is a disgrace. If we, regular property owners, did that, we’d get fined.”

Photo courtesy Bob Holden

Plans aren’t complete for what the newsstand site will become, but for now the DOT “will make it nicer,” according to a Crowley spokesperson.

 

 

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MTA granted eminent domain powers for Flushing LIRR project


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo rendering courtesy of the MTA

The MTA has been given eminent domain powers to move forward with a long-awaited plan to upgrade the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station in Flushing.

The agency’s board voted Jan. 29 to approve the potential use of eminent domain to acquire a one-story building at 40-36 Main St., currently owned by Ou Jiang City Supermarket, an MTA spokesperson said.

It may be a necessary measure in order to continue with a plan to reconfigure the Flushing-Main Street station’s east and westbound entrances.

“We’re hoping not to have to take that step,” said MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan, adding that a State Supreme Court judge in Queens would still need to sign off on the use. “We are hoping to negotiate with the building owner to arrive at a way to acquire that property.”

The MTA wants to construct elevators and wide staircases to make platforms more visible and handicapped accessible — a plan long welcomed by local leaders.

“The LIRR’s Main Street facility was built in the 1950s and is in dire need of an upgrade,” said Councilmember Peter Koo.

Koo said he has received multiple complaints from elderly and disabled riders of the station’s dim lighting and lack of accessibility.

Dian Yu, executive director of the Flushing Business Improvement District, said the “hideous” blight has also become a nightmarish “dumping ground” for garbage.

“Our community has had to deal with these terrible conditions for way too long,” Koo said. “I’m glad this train is finally pulling out the station.”

Design work is underway, and construction is slated to begin in 2015, Donovan said. It is unclear when the project is expected to end.

The station is not expected to be impacted during morning and evening rush hour commutes, Donovan said, but there may be temporary closures during off-peak hours.

The project was expected to cost $8.5 million in 2012, MTA-LIRR President Helena Williams previously said. MTA officials now say the project’s budget is under review.

 

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Far Rockaway teen busted for anti-Semitic graffiti at LIRR station


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA Long Island Rail Road

A Far Rockaway teen has been arrested for defacing the Cedarhurst Long Island Rail Road station with anti-Semitic graffiti on eight occasions, the MTA said.

Jonathan Schuster, 18, has been charged with felony criminal mischief in the third degree as a hate crime, criminal mischief in the fourth degree and making graffiti, according to MTA police.

A senior at Priority-1:Torah Academy of Lawrence-Cedarhurst, a yeshiva located in the town, Schuster allegedly committed the acts starting in December 2012. He is accused of using a black marker to write anti-Semitic statements, which usually contained expletives, on platform advertising billboards, police said.

His arrest comes after a year-long investigation that included uniformed patrols and surveillance by undercover detectives, according to the MTA. A wanted poster was also issued last month and a reward was offered for any information leading to the perpetrator’s arrest. Tips lead detectives to Schuster who allegedly confessed to the crime, police said.

Since December 2012, there have been 11 incidents in which anti-Semitic graffiti was scrawled on advertisements at three Long Island Rail Road stations in the Five Towns area of Nassau County, including the eight at Cedarhurst station, three at Lawrence station and one at Hewlett station, authorities said.

MTA Police are continuing to investigate the other incidents.

 

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MTA service for Super Bowl week


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA

Dubbed the “first mass transit Super Bowl,” the MTA is encouraging people attending the big game on Sunday, Feb. 2 as well as related festivities this week to use its subways, buses, and regional railroads.

The MTA will be providing additional service on the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North Railroad, and NYC transit will also be providing full service.

Super Bowl Boulevard will be covering Broadway from 34th Street to 47th Street beginning this Wednesday, Jan. 29 at noon. Super Bowl Boulevard consists of a 7-story Toboggan Run and endless possibilities for autographs and pictures for die-hard fans.

 

Wednesday, Jan. 29 to Friday, Jan. 31:

NYC Transit

The B,D,F,M,N,Q, or R trains will take you to 34th Street-Herald Square, the N,Q,R,S,1,2,3 or 7 trains will drop you off right at Times Square- 42nd Street, and the A,C, or E, to 42nd Street-Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Long Island Railroad

The LIRR will be adding extra late afternoon and evening trains on four branches (Babylon Branch, Ronkonkoma Branch, Port Jefferson Branch, Port Washington Branch) starting Jan 29th.

Babylon Branch:

Four extra Penn Station-bound trains will be departing Babylon Ronkonkoma Branch.

Ronkonkoma Branch:

An extra Penn Station-bound train will be departing from Ronkonkoma. Three Ronkonkoma-bound trains will be departing Penn Station.

Port Jefferson Branch:

Three extra Penn Station bound trains will be departing Huntington.

An extra Huntington-bound train will be departing Penn Station.

Port Washington Branch:

Three extra Penn Station-bound trains will be departing Great Neck

For more details, click here.

Metro-North Railroad

The Metro North Railroad will be running four extra trains per day.

Harlem Line:

An extra train will be departing Southeast, and arriving at Grand Central

Hudson Line:

An extra train will be departing Poughkeepsie, and arriving at Grand Central.

New Haven Line:

An extra train will be departing New Haven and arriving at Grand Central.

An extra train will also be departing Grand Central, and arriving in New Haven

 

Saturday Feb.1:

New York City Transit

New York City Transit will be running an extra 1 train. The S train on the 42nd Street Shuttle will be having rush-hour level service providing 3 extra trains

Metro-North Railroad

The Metro North Railroad will be providing 16 extra trains on the New Haven Line and two extra trains on the Hudson Line.

Long Island Rail Road

The Long Island Rail Road will be running six extra Babylon Branch Trains.

 

Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 2:

Fans holding tickets to the Super Bowl will be able to take trains, Fans Express busses, and charter buses to the country’s first Mass Transit Super Bowl. Fans will be required to bring the ticket to show at the Secaucus Junction before being allowed to connect the MetLife Stadium shuttle train.

Ticket holders may also catch NJ transit to trains to Secaucus for a short shuttle train ride to MetLife Stadium.

Penn Station buses; M4, M7, M20, M34, M34A, and Q32

In addition, Fan Express buses will depart for the game form six points in Manhattan, and the MTA is a great way to get to all the departure points

  • Battery Place (4,5 to Bowling Green)
  • 6th Ave (A,C,D, and F to W. 4th St.)
  • Madison Square Park (N,R to 23rd St.)
  • Grand Central/45th St. (4,5,6,7, and S/Metro-North to Grand Central)
  • Waldorf Astoria Hotel (6 to 51st /E to Lexington Ave)
  • Time-Warner Center (1, A, C, D to 59th St-Columbus Circle)

 

After the game:

The Long Island Rail Road  will be running two extra trains from Penn Station.

A Babylon bound train will depart and a Huntington-bound train will depart.

For more details, click here.

 

MTA to suspend track and road work:

New York City Transit is suspending Manhattan weekend track work during Super Bowl weekend, Feb. 1-2, with the exception of the long-term Sandy recovery project to restore the R train through the Montague Tube. MTA Bridges and Tunnels will closely monitor all routine construction at its crossings Super Bowl week, particularly at the bridges and tunnels leading into Manhattan. All routine construction will be suspended at MTA crossings on Super Bowl weekend. The Bronx-Whitestone Bridge will maintain three lanes heading to the Bronx all weekend.

MTA service changes for Martin Luther King Jr. Day


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

On Monday, Jan. 20, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, there will be the following MTA service changes, according to the transit agency.

New York City Subway, Buses and Staten Island Railway

On Monday, Jan. 20, the city’s subway and Staten Island Railway will operate on a regular weekday schedule.

The city’s buses will operate on a weekday schedule with minor timing changes except for Staten Island, where Limited Stop routes S81, S84, S86, S90, S91, S92, S94, S96 and S98 will not operate. Weekday local service will operate along those routes. Limited stop routes S89 and S93 will operate on weekday schedules with minor timing changes. All Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens “X” express routes will operate on weekday schedules with minor timing changes.

Long Island Rail Road

LIRR will operate on a holiday schedule with 32 extra trains to and from Penn Station. Off peak fares will be in effect all day. Because it is a holiday schedule, there will be no service on the West Hempstead Branch and no service between Ronkonkoma and Greenport.

The departure and arrival times of the extra trains can be found in current LIRR branch timetables under the columns marked “Note M.” The timetables can also be found on the MTA LIRR web site.

Metro-North Railroad

Metro-North Railroad will operate on a Saturday schedule with 36 additional trains as indicated in the current Harlem, Hudson and New Haven Line timetables. Off peak fares apply all day.

Extra New York City-bound trains during the morning and northbound in the late afternoon will be provided.

There are 15 extra trains on the New Haven Line, nine inbound and six outbound.  There are three extra Hudson Line trains, two inbound and one outbound, and 14 extra Harlem Line trains, seven in each direction.

Special Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday timetables listing all trains are posted online at the Metro-North’s schedules page.

All additional trains will be included in Metro-North Train Time™ app for iPhone and Android as well as on the CooCoo text messaging service.

The uptown exits of Grand Central North will be closed all day.

 

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