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CBS2 rides LIRR from Jamaica to Midtown East to check out new Grand Central Madison

LIRR riders celebrate opening of Grand Central Madison
LIRR riders celebrate opening of Grand Central Madison 02:43

NEW YORK -- It has been nearly two weeks since Grand Central Madison opened to the public. It is now bringing in thousands of Queens and Long Island customers in and out of Manhattan's East Side.

The multi-billion-dollar project has been receiving praise from city and state leaders, but CBS2 wanted to check it out for ourselves.

Reporter Elijah Westbrook recently went on a journey and documented his experience on how the new service is holding up.

READ MORELong Island Rail Road service begins to new Grand Central Madison terminal

Westbrook had plans to meet up with a friend in Midtown East and decided to use the opportunity to take the Long Island Rail Road's new service into Grand Central Madison.

He took a 12:15 p.m. train from Jamaica, first getting a ticket at a new kiosk. He purchased a one-way for nearly $8 and then hopped on board. His train departed right on time. The trip to Grand Central Madison was expected to take just 20 minutes.

"We are on board what's called the 'M-9.' It's one of the LIRR's newer fleet. This type of train, as well as the 'M-7,' are what's primarily used to go into Grand Central Madison," Westbrook said.

READ MOREMTA says it "clearly F-ed this one up" after typo spotted in Grand Central Station's new $11 billion terminal

He was on a relatively empty train, but caught up with first-time riders heading into the city to get their take on the new service so far. John Dougherty is an attorney in Midtown East.

"I work a block south of Grand Central, so this is a cool addition," Dougherty said.

"How was your commute before this?" Westbrook asked.

"I got kind of creative. The railroad sometimes has its issues. I would generally go into Penn, but because I work in Midtown, I would go to Hunters Point and then take the subway," Dougherty said.

He called it a game-changer.

At around 12:35 p.m., the M-9 pulled into Grand Central Madison.

"It's beautiful. There's a lot you can do in 20 years. You can really get some stuff done," Dougherty said, adding his commute was slashed by at least 30 minutes. He went on his way and Westbrook decided to check out the rest of the terminal for himself.

He approached three escalators.

"This is that escalator they say can be dizzying because of how steep and long it is. We're hearing it's about 1 minute, 38 seconds from the bottom all the way to the top. I just pulled up the timer app on my phone ... and here we go," Westbrook said. "I'm not going to lie. I feel if I take one wrong step here, I'm going to fall backwards. Let me hold on."

Westbrook timed the escalator trip at 1 minute, 41 seconds.

FLASHBACKNew LIRR terminal for East Side Access Project officially dubbed Grand Central Madison

Once at the top and on a five-minute walk to the main Grand Central concourse, Westbrook said riders will notice businesses aren't open yet, but the MTA says they will be later this year.

After experiencing the historic transit journey, overall, Westbrook said it was a positive experience. The train arrived on-time and it was nice to see such a modern and clean station.

A couple of words of advice: plan accordingly, as it takes a solid seven to 10 minutes to get from the platform to the street level.

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