Readers Write: MTA playing catch-up on East Side Access to Grand Central

Readers Write: MTA playing catch-up on East Side Access to Grand Central
There is still work to be done after the soft opening on March 25 for Long Island Rail Road East Side Access to Grand Central Madison.  So far, there is only limited shuttle service between Jamaica Station and GCM.  How will the 160,000 daily LIRR riders previously predicted by the MTA to use this supposedly state-of-the-art physicality deal with some interesting challenges? 
There are only four  elevators connecting the east and west lower and upper level tracks with the mezzanine and Madison Concourse. Escalators are steep and require 90 seconds of travel time. In addition to those riders physically challenged, there will be many others such as pregnant women, those with bicycles, people who suffer from vertigo or altaphobia, limited eye sight and seniors who may not be comfortable riding escalators, but will instead elect to use elevators.
How would only two elevators provide sufficient capacity especially if one or both suffer mechanical difficulties?  The one waiting room only has a 29-seat capacity plus seven stools for WFI connections to serve all the riders utilizing this facility.  There are no benches on either platform, mezzanine level or Madison concourse to sit on while waiting for your train.  Perhaps the MTA & LIRR are afraid of an invasion by the homeless occupying space.
You better be in good physical shape if you can find a seat in the waiting room when your train is posted to insure boarding before departure.  When it comes to disposal of newspapers, beverage containers, garbage or other waste, there doesn’t appear to be any attempt for recycling let alone disposal of what can’t be recycled.   Are riders suppose to carry all of this to street level before able to throw out? 
Many people, while waiting for a train, enjoy stopping by a newsstand to purchase a paper or periodical. I didn’t see any potential newsstands or any newspaper vending machines. Newsstands are readily available in Metro North Grand Central Terminal, Penn and Jamaica Stations. There are a number of ticket vending machines still waiting to be installed and one set of escalators on the Madison Concourse yet to open.
A significant portion of the lighting is the old style florescent bulb vs. newer more efficient and environmentally friendly LED. A number of contractors are still walking around the facility in the process of completing contract punch list, inspection and acceptance, quality assurance and quality control. MTA Real Estate is in charge of leasing space. No retail space has opened to date. How many months of lost revenue will be incurred until all retail space is occupied?
Ten years after the original completion date of 2013 as promised in the 2006 Federal Transit Administration $6.3 billion Capital Investment Grant Full Funding Grant Agreement (which capped the federal share at $2.6 billion) and $5 billion over budget not including $1 billion more for the cost of financing for a total of $2.6 billion, LIRR commuters deserve better.
When it comes to East Side Access, the LIRR 1960’s motto “Line of the Dashing Dan” should be changed to “Line of the Slow Moving Sloth.”
 Larry Penner
 Great Neck
Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously served as a former Director for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office of Operations and Program Management.

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