Long Island Rail Road seeing more commuters shift to Grand Central Madison following service changes

LIRR riders still adjusting to Grand Central Madison service changes

RONKONKOMA, NY -- It appears commuting chaos is turning into achievement for the Long Island Rail Road.

The LIRR is starting to see the pendulum swing in its favor, with more commuters utilizing its new Grand Central Madison Terminal. 

This past February, the MTA made the biggest schedule change in LIRR history, by opening the $11 billion terminal.

It meant fewer direct trains to Penn Station and longer commute times, with more people having to transfer at Jamaica Station and make a dash to connecting trains.

However, some are adjusting.  

In the beginning, 71% of commuters still went to Penn Station, while the rest went to Grand Central Madison. But recent MTA numbers obtained by CBS New York shows a shift is occurring.

The numbers show 64% are now going to Penn Station, and 36% are going to Grand Central Madison -- which means the LIRR is inching closer to its original goal of 60-40%.

"They were a little off on their initial estimates," said Gerard Bringmann, Chairman of the Long Island Railroad Commuter Alliance. "People are starting to discover what the benefits are of Grand Central Madison."

However, other commuters tell CBS New York's John Dias they don't like the change.

"It's hard to transfer," said Ridge resident Marie Desire. "We tend to miss the train. Timing is bad."

Lena Notarstefano says it's her worst commute in 15 years.

"I don't think any of us will ever get used to this," said Notarstefano, of Oakdale.

Some transit experts say another problem the MTA is dealing with is a lack of equipment.

"To run as much service as they have with as little equipment as they have is really impressive," said Lisa Daglian, Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC).

Daglian says once new trains come in, commuting will be better.

"But there have been a lot of issues with the manufacturers, they're still undergoing testing," said Daglian.

The MTA says the 41% service increase to and from Grand Central Madison Terminal has created more opportunities for riders.

The LIRR is also getting ready to roll out a new schedule in a few weeks, which could impact more commutes.  

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