LIRR commuters navigate schedule changes as Grand Central Madison service takes full effect
NEW YORK -- It's a big day for Long Island commuters, as full Long Island Rail Road service to Grand Central Madison officially begins.
While it's a game changer for those heading to Manhattan's East Side, not everyone is thrilled.
It's the first time in a century change like this has come to the LIRR.
The first train rolled into Grand Central Madison around 6 a.m. Monday. In New York style, it carried commuters in a hurry, but happy.
"Great ride," one person said.
"Very good. Smoothest ride on the Long Island Rail Road," said another.
All branches of the LIRR now make stops at Grand Central Madison, with 274 additional trains each weekday -- a 41% increase in services.
Throughout the morning, riders continued to show excitement, since many have trimmed up to 40 minutes off their commute.
"It's a dream come true. Finally made it two minutes to walk to work," one person said.
"It's lovely, it's great. It changed my life," another added.
The new station means, for the first time, Long Island commuters have direct access to Manhattan's East Side. Before, the only option was Penn Station on the West Side.
But for those who still need to head west, it comes with headaches. Fewer trains run there and, in some cases, there are longer transfer times at Jamaica Station.
"The only bad part is you have to wait a half an hour at Jamaica to transfer," said one person.
For those heading into Brooklyn, many direct trains between Long Island and Atlantic Terminal no longer exist.
One man said it's as if the city is favoring Manhattan commuters.
"It's an inconvenience," he said. "Either you're going to reach to work way earlier, or you're going to reach to work later. So for me, I've got to leave earlier."
After greeting commuters at the new station, CBS2's John Dias questioned the LIRR president about the issues, asking if the new schedule will stick.
"This is a lot of change for a railroad that, with respect to the schedules, hasn't changed all that much for the last hundred years," said LIRR Interim President Catherine Rinaldi. "So we are going to see who's taking what trains, and we are going to adjust as we go."
It took 25 years to build Grand Central Madison right underneath Grand Central Terminal. The MTA says the LIRR is the busiest commuter railroad in North America.
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