The Long Island Rail Road’s Oyster Bay Branch will be implementing service changes starting Sept. 5, made in collaboration with community feedback and elected officials, which the Metropolitan Transit Authority says will diminish crowding and shorten commute times.
“We are so thrilled to be able to make these improvements for our Oyster Bay Branch customers. The changes we announced today are the result of many conversations with the region’s elected officials, community leaders and commuters,” LIRR Interim President and Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi said. “Despite our operational challenges and limitations, these improvements show a willingness to work with our riders and make adjustments wherever possible to improve their commutes.”
Two changes on the Oyster Bay Branch will be implemented starting on Sept. 5.
The 6:55 a.m. train from Oyster Bay to Hunters Point Avenue will now depart at 7:01 a.m. This train will only make stops at Locust Valley, Glen Street, Glen Head, Roslyn, East Williston and Jamaica.
The second change is that riders on the 7:17 a.m. Penn Station-bound train from Oyster Bay to Hunters Point Avenue will be able to transfer to a new train originating at Jamaica. Previously the train connected to a train that was already occupied with passengers from Babylon.
“This is a direct result of efforts by local residents,” state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) said. “Anytime you can make it easier for people to get to and from work, it means there’s more time for them to do the things they love with family and friends. That means a better quality of life and I applaud any effort to make that happen.”
The MTA said the new changes are in response to recent ridership patterns after the implementation of full service to Grand Central Madison on Feb. 27. They report that service has increased by 41%, a historic growth.
“I am extremely pleased with these changes, which are intended to enhance rider efficiency,” state Assembly Member Charles Lavine (D–North Shore) said. “They were accomplished through steady dialogue with the MTA. While I look forward to continuing to build on the progress made here, we will monitor progress and recommend any necessary modifications we believe can make for an even better commute for riders of the Oyster Bay branch.”
Despite its praise, North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena expressed her dismay over the schedule changes in a letter to Rinaldi on Aug. 21.
DeSena said in the letter that changing the 6:55 a.m. train to make a limited number of stops, essentially creating more of an express, would decrease its service in North Hempstead by 60%. She said this will produce an hour-long gap in service at the Albertson and Greenvale stations, which is detrimental during the morning commuter rush.
“These residents will now be forced to choose between arriving significantly earlier or significantly later to their place of work, which is not realistically an option,” DeSena said in her letter.
She asked Rinaldi to reconsider the decision to limit the service on the 6:55 a.m. train in order to avoid disrupting the lives of many individuals in the community.
“Simply put, this is unacceptable, and must be reversed immediately,” DeSena said.
Long Island Rail Road schedules can be viewed on the TrainTime app and online.
The service changes arrive in the wake of the MTA increasing fare prices on the Long Island Rail Road.
On Aug. 20, monthly and weekly tickets for the LIRR increased by up to 4.5%. Monthly ticket fares do not exceed $500.
For example, monthly fares from Zone 4, which includes New Hyde Park, East Williston, Great Neck, Manhasset and Port Washington, to Penn Station and Grand Central Madison increased from $243 to $253.
For those traveling from Zone 7, which includes Albertson, Roslyn, Sea Cliff and Glen Cove, to Manhattan, monthly fares rose from $277 to $287.
While ticket pricing increased, fares are lower than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic due to a 10% discount implemented in March 2022, according to the MTA website.