Home LIRR On Elmhurst, the LIRR and a better CityTicket

On Elmhurst, the LIRR and a better CityTicket

by Benjamin Kabak

Remnants of the old LIRR Elmhurst station remain. Queens politicians want to revive the stop.

A few months ago, Queens representatives gathered with MTA officials to discuss the old Elmhurst LIRR station. Shuttered in 1985 due to declining ridership, politicians want to reopen the station with the neighborhood booming, and the MTA isn’t opposed to the project. With a population increase of 45 percent between 1980 and 2010, the neighborhood, currently served only by the M and R trains, is at least a 30-minute train ride away from Midtown and could use speedier transit.

Recently, a Wall Street Journal article offered up a summary of things:

The R and M subway lines that currently stop in Elmhurst take between 30 and 40 minutes to reach Manhattan during peak hours—on crowded trains. The LIRR train from Elmhurst would arrive at Manhattan’s Penn Station in roughly 15 minutes. “If people are given the opportunity to shave off about half an hour from their commute, that’s an enormously valuable product,” said Mr. Crowley, adding that the move would also open up Elmhurst as a neighborhood for additional people to explore.

LIRR officials say they are giving the issue “serious consideration.” Improvements being made on the Port Washington line will add capacity, according to Helena Williams, president of the LIRR. The project would cost between $20 million and $30 million, she said The next step, Ms. Williams added, will be a ridership study to be conducted in the next year or so, that will analyze the potential market for the LIRR in Elmhurst.

Robert Valdes-Clausell, an Elmhurst resident since 1966 and treasurer of the Newtown Civic Association, said residents are “already being exposed to the rumbling of the [LIRR] train and there is a tremendous increase in population density.” With the number of residents “expected to grow even further, this is a great opportunity to accommodate and serve the people,” he said.

The costs depend upon accessibility. With an elevator, the project would likely reach its $30 million estimate; without, it could afoul of ADA regulations and cost $20 million. That’s not the real issue though.

The biggest problem, as reports from earlier this year noted, is the cost of a ride. A subway swipe from Elmhurst Ave. costs, at most, $2.25 — and no one really pays that much on a daily basis. An LIRR monthly pass starts at $163, and individual peak rides run upwards of $7. The $3.75 City Ticket is good only on Saturdays and Sundays. Why?

The MTA has long treated its sub-agencies as separate fiefdoms that don’t play well with others. While back-office functions have been combined in recent years in an effort to eliminate redundancies, fare policies have remained stubbornly separate, much to the detriment of transit usage. It shouldn’t cost that much more to take the LIRR from Forest Hills than it does to take the E or F trains, and if the MTA is seriously about adding another LIRR stop in Queens or Metro-North access in the Bronx, the fare policies should be better unified. Otherwise, missed opportunities will abound.

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BBnet3000 May 10, 2012 - 3:09 pm

An elevator or two cost 10 million dollars?

Eric F May 10, 2012 - 4:50 pm

Maybe it’s like one of those elevators in The Far Side cartoons that go down to hell and up to heaven?

Nathanael May 19, 2012 - 11:06 am

Elevator prices have been startlingly inflated at transit agencies. I haven’t seen a good explanation for why. In retrofits, there’s an excuse (you have to build custom elevators to fit into strange spaces), but there’s no excuse in new construction.

Anyway, it shows a bad attitude on the part of the MTA that they’re even talking about building the station “without elevators”; a responsible agency does not even consider violating the ADA in new construction, but the MTA apparently hasn’t gotten the message that the ADA has been law since 1993.

Nathanael May 19, 2012 - 11:11 am

To be clear, there are NO exceptions to the accessibility mandate for NEW construction. If the MTA tries to get away with something, they will probably try to claim that this isn’t new construction (which is bogus).

Bill Reese May 10, 2012 - 3:13 pm

Cheaper LIRR tickets for inter-borough travel might inspire more people under-served by the subways to leave their cars at home and take the train. Whatever costs the MTA loses in that equation could be made up by the new customers.

Never mind the fact that the MTA already loses some cash from people who get on at Woodside, but manage to get to Penn before the conductor comes by to check tickets——if they ever do at all. I’ve worked in Woodside for 5 years, and every now and then I do take the LIRR to Manhattan if I’m in a rush. In my experiences, I’ve been asked for a ticket about 65% of the time.

Eric F May 10, 2012 - 4:50 pm

If there’s a Mets game going on that figure drops to about 5%.

jim May 10, 2012 - 3:42 pm

The problem with integrating fares, a la Berlin or Paris, is that the payment mechanisms are incompatible: swipe v. PoP. This is one of the things that may have to wait until son-of-Metrocard, where it could explicitly be made a criterion for selection.

SEAN May 10, 2012 - 3:54 pm

What you are describing is similar to SF’s Clipper Card. It works on BART, VTA’s lightrail & CalTrain as well as several bus systems.

Michael May 10, 2012 - 6:04 pm

The NY, NJ and CT need to develop a new standardized smartcard payment system similar to the Clipper Card. It does POP on Muni and Caltrain (inspectors tap card to confirm payment), Fare card gate entry and exit on BART and tap boarding on all the regions different bus systems. It tracks free transfers that may exist between systems, so if you have a Caltrain monthly pass, you can get your free transfer to the local bus system.

Whether you are riding on MTA (Subways, LIRR, Metro North), PA (Path, Airtrain), New Jersey Transit or any of the other local transit agencies you should only need one card that carries all passes, in and out of system transfers and a cash balance. The fracturing of cash metrocards between MTA, Path and Airtrain is frustrating, if I have cash on a metrocard i shouldn’t be limited to just the subway because it is set to auto-refill. Path having its own Smartlink card is also wasteful.

One system would make a huge difference reducing the overhead of each transit system developing their own system. Also, the more that people have the same card, the more likely they are to jump on a bus or train rather than drive. MN, NJT and LIRR could then add fare gates at major stations to ensure all riders at the busiest of stations have paid when the conductors can’t always check all of these tickets before the first station. Also this should save the transit agencies from having to maintain so many ticket machines (half of which are broken). Adding cash and buying passes can be done on the internet, or can be set to automatically refill. The oyster card in london has the added benefit on the Tube that it will limit your maximum cost for a day to the price of a day pass.

If the transit agencies were really smart, they would also allow these cards separately track pre and post tax cash so you could use pretax cash for transit rides and passes, and post tax cash at stores, paying parking meters, tolls when you don’t have a EZpass, or any other fast transaction.

My fear is that when the MTA unveils their planned VISA Blink/MasterCard PayPass Tap fare system, the banks will leach an ever growing share of transit dollars through micro transaction fees where the MTA will need to pay 25 cents to the banks for each tap fare paid as a retailer transaction fee. Since retailers are prohibited from directly passing these fees on to customers, the MTA would need to raise all fares by the amount of the transaction fee to avoid loosing money. The MTA would have every interest in minimizing their transaction fee costs by encouraging cash balance refills rather than individual ride payments from you credit/debit card.

SEAN May 10, 2012 - 8:37 pm

From what I remember the new farecard in development for the MTA, is based on PATH’s SmartLink. You are correct, a single card standard should be used throughout the entire tri-state region if not across the entire country.

Just imagine taking the card you would normally use on any MTA service & being able to use that card in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami or any other urban regional system . If there’s a will, it can be & should be done.

Alex C May 11, 2012 - 12:23 am

I like your idea. But then, does this system also connect with the SEPTA system at the two SEPTA/NJT transfer points in NJ? (I think there’s two, I remember there’s Trenton and another one where they’re really close farther west).

SEAN May 11, 2012 - 10:25 am

SEPTA is developing it’s own farecard system as we speak. Planned launch is in 2014. Why cant systems across metro areas except each others fare media. After the only thing that could happen is higher ridership!

Justin Samuels May 12, 2012 - 2:27 am

There’s no point in different systems standardizing each other’s payment. Chicago people for example, mostly use public transportation in Chicago. If they occassionally go to NYC or LA, then they can simply by NYC or LA passes . The cost of standardize everything is not worth the use you’d get out of it.

Even me for example. I live in Queens. I use the subway, and sometimes the LIRR. I basically never use MetroNorth or NJ Transit, so there’s not much benefit for me even if they did standarize these systems. If one has to go from Queens to NJ frequently, you need a car, plain and simple because there’s insufficent public transportation!

Henry May 10, 2012 - 8:22 pm

London’s Docklands Light Railway manages to circumvent the issue by having card readers placed in stations. It provides a solution by allowing POP operation, while also allowing for fare integration with the Underground.

Theoretically, LIRR stations could start issuing unlimited ride Metrocards that could work on the LIRR, bus, and subway (albeit at a higher price than the one that only provides bus and subway transfers). I don’t see why this couldn’t be done.

Joe Steindam May 10, 2012 - 4:11 pm

There could be a blended system, like on the Select Bus Service, where you swipe a metrocard and get a receipt before you board. There’s plenty to want from the performance of those machines, and it doesn’t help those who run to catch the train (as LIRR is slightly better at maintaining a time table, it’s more likely people will arrive just before their train). But it’s more feasible than fare gates or PoP when you’re 15 minutes from the terminus.

Aside from the more expensive fares on the commuter rail, there’s also the issue that transferring to the Subway or bus network will cost an additional fare. If a growing number of city residents begin using the commuter railroad to get to Manhattan, we might see a push to offer some relief in the form of a free or reduced transfer to the subway system.

Alon Levy May 12, 2012 - 12:39 am

Paris uses POP on buses and Transilien and faregates on the Métro and RER.

SEAN May 10, 2012 - 3:48 pm

The Harlem & Hudson Lines serve high dencity neighborhoods in The Bronx that could also benefit with cheaper fares. It could releave over crowding on the 1, 2, 4 & 5 lines in the same way a reopened Elmhurst station would releave the M & R as already stated.

Joe Steindam May 10, 2012 - 4:31 pm

In addition to the high fare, the problem at Metro-North stations in the Bronx is frequency. At stations like University Heights and Morris Heights on the Hudson line, trains stop there every 25-30 minutes at peak because most trains from further away run express in the Bronx. Even with the quicker travel time and a more reasonable fare, frequency that low will not draw many new passengers from either cars or the subway or bus network.

AG May 10, 2012 - 5:31 pm

Joe – you are right about frequency… but commuter trains are not as frequent as a subway. The problem with the Harlem line stops in the Bronx are the conditions of the stations. It also has to do with development. In the area of the Botanical Gardens for example there is not that much density and most of the people in the area don’t work in Manhattan. It’s also economic. In the lower income areas of the Bronx you have less ppl who are able to afford the extra cost. That’s why I also think there needs to be more “mixed income” development in the South Bronx. I know ppl will scream “gentrification”… but I know from experience there is something wrong when all of your neighbors are on the same step of the lower rung of the ladder.
Btw – Metro North actually notes that you have more reverse commuters on the Harlem line – mainly going to White Plains for jobs. I’m not sure about the Hudson line though…

I think it could work even with 20-30 minute intervals… for instance – texting 266266 gives you the next 5 trains passing your station. That helps in making decisions for someone who does have a 9 to 5 schedule (I can speak first hand). I can remember having to rush from midtown to Fordham Road to attend a class after work. If I could have bought a $3.75 City Ticket – no question I would have used the Metro North… instead of the D or 4 train.

Jason B. May 10, 2012 - 10:25 pm

But to the credit of the commuter rails, there is the majorly added convenience of scheduled stops. I frequently took MetroNorth from Melrose instead of schelpping over to 161st/Yankee Stadium, and always preferred knowing when my train was going to arrive. And with Train Time and CooCoo it’s very very convenient, even if it runs only every 2 hours outside of the rush. I just modified when I left work and planned ahead.

pea-jay May 10, 2012 - 3:52 pm

I could buy the argument that in-city fares be set at twice the Subway/Bus fares. It is a premium service of sorts.

Jonathan May 10, 2012 - 4:05 pm

If you look at transit systems in Europe that should serve as a model for New York, none of them charge a premium fare for an equivalent trip on regional rail vs subway. The point is an integrated transit system where everybody takes the best route to their destination.

Adirondacker12800 May 10, 2012 - 5:15 pm

Unless you are headed to Penn Station or it’s immediate environs taking the M or the R is the best route.

Anon256 May 10, 2012 - 8:12 pm

The RER from La Defense into central Paris costs more than the Metro.

Andrew May 10, 2012 - 8:40 pm

Only because the entirety of the Metro is considered Zone 1, even where it stretches outside Zone 1.

Alon Levy May 12, 2012 - 12:45 am

When the RER station at La Defense opened, the Metro hadn’t yet been extended there. Since all of the Metro had a flat fare and was in zones 1-2, there was no point in installing gates that require you to insert a ticket to exit.

Michael Pomposello May 10, 2012 - 4:42 pm

When Bloomberg was running for reelction his proposed transit plan that included extending the “CityTicket” pricing to be 7 days a week. Rationale being that it can help relieve some of the stress of subways and raise weekly ridership on the LIRR. (win / win.)

Unfortunately, that’s yet to come to fruition but conceptually it would solve a lot of problems. On the flip side I’m sure the MTA / LIRR is hesitant to cut off peak prices for obvious reasons.

Let’s see if this ever comes to life.

Eric F May 10, 2012 - 4:56 pm

One negative to this plan is that it lards up the Port Washington line with another stop. That line is a single track in each direction, except way out east where both directions share one track, and I imagine the added stop would slow down the line a bit.

Jeff May 11, 2012 - 7:51 am

It was running fine a few decades ago when the Elmhurst AND Corona stops were still open.

Alon Levy May 12, 2012 - 12:46 am

At the speed those trains are going, it slows trains by maybe 1 minute. And that’s with generous padding.

Henry Man May 10, 2012 - 5:03 pm

They should consider the RER example in Paris, where they use a common ticket for the Metro and the suburban services (but once they go past a certain boundary, zonal fares apply).

It may be too distant from our reality, but it would increase LIRR/MNR ridership in the city, especially in areas where it would be better served with the LIRR/MNR as opposed to the subway (access and convenience).

SEAN May 10, 2012 - 5:17 pm

Like Forest Hills, Woodlawn or Riverdale.

AG May 10, 2012 - 5:19 pm

I mentioned it in a comment to another story on here the other day. CityTicket should be applicable all the time on LIRR and Metro North. It would ease overcrowding on subways. An extra $1.50 for a faster ride is more than fair for a fare 🙂 Even for someone who makes a decent salary but is priced out of certain neighborhoods – they could live a little further but still have a decent commute to midtown Manhattan. Even if you transfer to the subway – and pay an extra fare – the price may still be worth it in saved time.
Also aside from City Ticket – there is the issue of “reverse commute”. Connecticut is pushing for the 4 new Metro North stations in the east Bronx to be able to get access to the labor pool in Hunts Point and Parkchester. While most of those in that area are low-skilled workers – those jobs still need to be filled. It’s not the same as an executive going to a meeting in Stamford from Manhattan – but it’s necessary jobs. I have no doubt the same would apply to a domestic worker in Elmhurst reverse commuting to a job in Long Island. They should be able to have a convenient commute as well.
I went to visit a client today on the Metro North going toward CT – and many low skilled workers from the 125th street and Fordham Road stations got off in New Rochelle and Port Chester in Westchester – which I’m sure is mainly for employment in the shopping centers near to the stations. These people live in lower income neighborhoods but are able to take jobs in the suburbs because of the public transportation. Again – I see the same thing for someone in Elmhurst – potentially to LI.

SEAN May 10, 2012 - 6:07 pm

Well stated. I’m going to bring up something that I read about a few years ago that relates to your post above related to gentrification.

Portland OR has a law on the books called the metropolitan housing rule – it basically states that developers have two options in providing afordable housing. Either units are set aside, or another building is constructed. If the latter is the option, the second building MUST be in the same area as it’s counterpart. That could be around the corner, a block or two away, but NOT relegated to some far flung area of town. Some may call that practace forced gentrification, but it keeps lower income residents out of the clusters of housing projects you find in many large cities. It’s not perfect, but I like the approach do to the out of the box thinking.

AG May 14, 2012 - 2:47 pm

SEAN – oh ok – I’m not aware of the program in Portland… but I do know it happens in Upper and Lower (LES) Manhattan as well as Brooklyn and Queens where when developers are given certain zoning privileges they are required to make a certain percentage of the unites in the building affordable. For some reason I don’t see that as much in the South Bronx. It’s almost always ALL affordable housing. Mixture is the most healthy for a city neighborhood.

Andrew May 10, 2012 - 6:35 pm

The article’s opening premise is incorrect. Running time from from Elmhurst Ave. to Herald Square is 25-30 minutes, not 30-40 minutes, and the M and R each runs every 6 minutes or so during rush hours. (If you’re going to Herald Square itself, you can take either one.) The Port Washington branch is much less frequent, and it only serves one point (soon two) in Manhattan. Regardless of fare, an Elmhurst LIRR station would attract very little ridership away from the subway.

That said, we should certainly adopt the pricing model common elsewhere that varies the fare based on distance and time, not mode.

By the way, the entities you refer to as “sub-agencies” are, in fact, separate agencies. There’s certainly plenty of room for better coordination, both within the MTA and with other agencies in the region, but NYCT and the LIRR are distinct agencies.

Alon Levy May 12, 2012 - 12:52 am

The frequency could be boosted at the same time that fares are aligned with subway fares. The main issue is off-peak local frequency – peak frequency is okay – and that’s more an issue of fare collection costs, turnaround times, and other things that require the MTA to get the union to agree to changing work rules. The LIRR unions are unusually intransigent, but they might be willing to accept it if it says in the contract the savings in unit cost have to go to more service rather than layoffs.

Andrew May 13, 2012 - 7:56 pm

If the current frequency meets loading guidelines, why would the frequency be increased?

The Port Washington branch peaks at 8 tph, but that includes locals and expresses – any potential Elmhurst station would see half that service, at best. Compared to 10 tph on the M plus 10 tph on the R, that isn’t very attractive.

Off-peak, the Port Washington branch runs 1 tph, compared to 6 tph on the M (on weekdays) plus 6 tph on the R. It would take a massive service boost, which simply isn’t warranted, to come close to the headway on the subway.

AG May 13, 2012 - 8:23 pm

I’m not familiar with that particular station… and you could be right… BUT giving people options is the most important thing. It’s not just about getting to Manhattan actually. In reality – you never know what having another transport option can do to the value of a neighborhood. Having a commuter rail should not be predicated solely on how crowded a subway is.

Andrew May 13, 2012 - 8:42 pm

Of course, and crowding was never given as the reason to reopen the station. The reason given was to “shave off about half an hour from their commute.” But the actual time savings would be negligible, since the running time via subway was inflated and the substantially increased wait time via LIRR was ignored.

If there were no cost to reopening the station, then, of course, I’d say it should be reopened, even if it attracts few riders. But there is a cost, and a strong case needs to be made that this is a better expenditure of $30 million than other projects. I don’t see that strong case.

AG May 14, 2012 - 3:31 pm

Andrew we never know what will happen in a neighborhood. The ppl of Elmhurst should the option of getting to Manhattan faster or riding all the way out to eastern Long Island and be a caddy at a golf course – or to enjoy themself on a beach. It’s called public transit for a reason…. for the good of the entire public…. not just some. There is CURRENTLY no reason for the #7 to be extended… but it’s in anticipation of development. So the ppl of Elmhurst shouldn’t have the option for diverse transit choices. There are stations in the system now that are being validly renovated that cost more than the $30mil projected cost of this.

Andrew May 14, 2012 - 8:01 pm

Again, I agree, having a station at Elmhurst would be nice. But I doubt it would attract many riders.

The stations that are being renovated for $30 million are already in use by lots and lots of real people. This station isn’t.

AG May 15, 2012 - 4:21 pm

In the 1970’s the MTA seriously considered stopping transit from serving the South Bronx because the neighborhood was devastated. Most people though the South Bronx was doomed. If those stations were allowed to be “moth-balled” then what would have happened?? You visit there in 2012 and billions (literally) have been spent on new development in the area in the past 10 years. All transit is used… and there are a good number of ppl who commute north of the city on Metro North. You can’t say what will happen in Elmhurst if this station re-opens. Aside from potential reverse commuters – the real estate market could very well change because more professionals priced out of other neighborhoods may be willing to move their if they have a faster ride. The station being built on the westside and on 2nd ave. are being used by no one at all right now because they are brand new. It sounds like you think only ppl in Manhattan deserve anything new.

Andrew May 15, 2012 - 9:56 pm

In the 1970?s the MTA seriously considered stopping transit from serving the South Bronx because the neighborhood was devastated.

Citation? Because I find that very hard to believe.

The Third Avenue el was torn down in the 70’s, and in the late 80’s or early 90’s, after the Intervale Ave. station burned down, the TA considered not rebuilding it. That’s all I can think of that you might be referring to.

You can’t say what will happen in Elmhurst if this station re-opens. Aside from potential reverse commuters – the real estate market could very well change because more professionals priced out of other neighborhoods may be willing to move their if they have a faster ride.

No, I can’t, but somebody can model the ridership impacts over time before we commit to spend $30 million.

The station being built on the westside and on 2nd ave. are being used by no one at all right now because they are brand new.

Only after extensive ridership studies demonstrated that they would be heavily used!

AG May 16, 2012 - 3:26 pm

Citation? Not to be funny – but you are either not from the area or too young to remember. Back then South Bronx had many public services eliminated or cut back because 50% of the population fled the area because of crime.

Models can’t predict everything. Did anyone do a model to know how hot Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Long Island City, or even Jersey City would become??

And those studies could fail tomorrow. The reality is that the station should not have been shut down. It should be re-opened. 30 million is no big sum when we are talking about transportation alternatives in NYC. The fact is that Manhattan is not near it’s record population – but Queens sets new records every year… but Manhattan projects are worth it and not Queens?? That’s what you seem to be saying.

Andrew May 22, 2012 - 10:06 pm

AG, I’m well aware of the services eliminated. But, aside from the Third Avenue el, there were no serious proposals in the 70’s to close any of the subway lines (or stations) in the Bronx.

Models aren’t perfect, but they’re a lot better than nothing. Spending $30 million of public funds to build a station without any idea of projected ridership is highly irresponsible, and that goes in all five boroughs and beyond,

AG May 22, 2012 - 11:20 pm

Depends on what you call “serious”. ALso note that the Bronx County Courthouse by 3rd Ave was also abandoned… among other things.

It’s not “building a new station”… it’s a rehab of a station that existed and was abandoned when the city was in the doldrums. And being that the MTA is studying it… I’m sure they will do the models.
30 million doesn’t go far in NYC… this would not be a strain at all.

Henry May 14, 2012 - 7:35 pm

If frequency was boosted, the line might be able to serve as a relief for the 7. People pay good money for the dollar vans that go straight to Chinatown (I believe fares on the “dollar” vans are now $3.00, so it’s not like it’s a particularly high price to pay when you compare the levels of comfort of a beat-up dollar van and a LIRR car)

Stephen Smith May 10, 2012 - 6:46 pm

Why the rush? I mean, it’s not like integrated service was one of the main reasons to nationalize transit in the first place…

SubwayNut May 10, 2012 - 11:27 pm

For those city residents having to go off to the suburbs on the LIRR and Metro-North there fares make it a lot cheeper to get on in the Bronx or Jamaica/Flushing.

On the LIRR its $2.25 cheeper to get on in Jamaica, if you are already on the subway or have an Unlimited you might as well crowd up the E train out to Sutphin Blvd if you have ten minutes to spare.

On Metro-North getting on at Marble Hill or Fordham for example can be especially money saving, the stations considered Intermediate and the differences in Peak/Off Peak fares don’t apply. I was going up to New Haven the other day, outbound in the AM Peak (in which peak fares now apply) at Fordham it was $11.50, had I taken the bus/subway to 125th Street instead (from Washington Heights) it would have been $19.50! That is a broken fare system. There really should also be at least a discounted or free transfer option (both to the subway and connecting suburban buses)

Metrolink Commuter Rail in Los Angeles charges outranges fares but all tickets include free transfers to virtually all local transit (from all stations) I was able to take it into Union Station to the Metro Red Line and than a bus to get where I wanted to go all on my one train ticket, that’s what I’d really like to see.

AG May 11, 2012 - 12:24 am

Subway Nut – You make good points… but I’m not sure the Los Angeles comparison is valid. We’d have to know to what level those transfers are subsidized… because nothing ever is “free”. is it a “gimmick” they are using since the system is new and they want travelers? Or is it really that efficient?
To view our region – you can now transfer free to the Bee-Line buses to Westchester (not sure about the buses in Long Island) since they now use the same Metro Card as NYCT.. But I don’t think it would be feasible to have someone from the LIRR or Metro North or NJ Transit get a free subway transfer like your saying in LA. Hopefully when “smart cards” become the norm – discounts can be issued like is done with EZ Pass… But what about the reverse? How can someone transferring from a subway to commuter rail not expect to pay more??

SEAN May 11, 2012 - 10:14 am

With a smartcard, the price of a subway fare can be deducted from the cost of a commuter train fare if a transfer is required. All that is nessessary is the card reader on the TVM would recognize a transfer & ajust the fares accordingly.

AG May 11, 2012 - 3:17 pm

I agree with that… that’s why I compared with EZ Pass I was disputing “free transfers”.

Jeff May 11, 2012 - 7:55 am

The Elmhurst station was closed back in the 80’s for a good reason – no one was using it… The neighborhood is well served by subways and happens to be very working-class oriented, which means many cannot afford the higher LIRR prices. None of that has changed since then, so its hard to tell if the same problem will surface.

John May 11, 2012 - 10:02 am

I agree, I don’t see the issue here. Has anyone ever walked from the area of the Elmhurst Station to where Jackson Hts-Roosevelt Av is? It’s a 10 minute walk, tops, and the Elmhurst Station is one station away from those express trains. You can easily get to midtown in closer to 15-20 minutes, I would say. Why not focus energy/expenditures on that 41st/10th stop instead (not saying the two are interchangeable, but it’s weird that the MTA is apparently looking favorably upon this, but had no problem completely scrapping a vital subway station).

Benjamin Kabak May 11, 2012 - 10:33 am

Re: 41st St/10th Ave.

$20-$30 million vs. $500-$800 million.

And I fully support the 41st St. station.

Steve May 11, 2012 - 1:47 pm

What are the relative crowding levels of LIRR and M&R trains at Elmhurst?

Jeff May 13, 2012 - 1:16 pm

M&R trains are typically full by Elmhurst Ave but many passengers empty out at Roosevelt Ave

Andrew May 13, 2012 - 7:46 pm

I can’t speak to the LIRR, but in my experience the M and R have plenty of room to spare in comparison to their loading guidelines (145 per car on the M, 175 per car on the R).

Jeff May 14, 2012 - 11:52 am

Not between Forest Hills and Roosevelt.

The one huge thing is that an LIRR stop in Elmhurst will provide relief on the E & F trains, because most passengers from the neighborhood transfer to the express at Roosevelt Av. I think that’s a more important point I think than the crowding level on the M & R.

Dan May 12, 2012 - 12:31 am

Not sure about the subway, but I do know the Port Washington trains are usually crowded in the peak direction (and sometimes also for Mets games / U.S. Open but not always).

And no real room to expand capacity or frequency beyond the already planned extension of the relay track for locals at Great Neck plus East Side Access. So while an Elmhurst LIRR stop is definitely not impossible, capacity issues do have to be considered. And outside of peak, the M/R probably would be more convenient for reaching Midtown.

Kai B May 13, 2012 - 7:04 pm

Funny, check out this article from 1988. Almost uses the same language:


The station was closed in January, 1985, after serving the area since 1854. The association wants the station reopened because of what it describes as the recent population growth in the area and congestion in the subway lines. [Hilda Deitz] said, “The number of people who would use the LIRR has grown. We could use express buses along with the LIRR services, because the other subways are so crowded.”

TP May 14, 2012 - 10:25 am

It’s cost and scheduling, plain and simple. In a working class neighborhood, people are going to go with the lowest cost option, which is NYCT, not LIRR. Even if it were only $1.50 more, most people wouldn’t do it. And people want to jump on the subway, which comes frequently even if it’s a little crowded, instead of having to memorize a schedule and wait a while if they miss the train.

The European examples of in-city commuter rail service work because the service is extremely frequent. Would LIRR be able to have a train hitting Elmhurst every 10 minutes? Otherwise I don’t think it’s worth it. Better to not slow down LIRR trains an extra minute for people in neighborhoods not served by subway.

AG May 14, 2012 - 3:26 pm

TP – many working class ppl now reverse commute out of the city. Manhattan has less and less of those working class jobs. That said – neighborhoods change all the time in NY – and when this station was shut down – it was when NYC was like a sinking abyss. That is no longer the case.

TP May 15, 2012 - 10:35 am

But again, reverse commuting on LIRR is terrible because the reverse commute train frequency is so sparse. Metro-North Harlem and New Haven lines are the only ones that see sizable reverse commute numbers as far as I know, and that’s because 1) MNRR is able to run a decent number of trains reverse-peak and 2) White Plains and Connecticut have jobs clustered around the train stations. Neither are true for LIRR/Long Island.

AG May 15, 2012 - 4:24 pm

You are correct… but that’s the point… those problems need to be corrected. The Long Island business community understands that they are in competition with Westchester and Connecticut. It’s up to the powers that be to make it happen. Nothing happens in one day though… steps need to be taken.

Re-re-examining an Elmhurst LIRR station :: Second Ave. Sagas July 9, 2013 - 12:05 am

[…] ridership in what was a declining neighborhood in 1985. Last year, we learned that the MTA isn’t opposed to the idea if the money can materialize. Recently, a similar group of politicians announced the next step in […]

MTA’s capital plan includes new Elmhurst LIRR station :: Second Ave. Sagas October 1, 2014 - 12:04 am

[…] have latched onto the idea of reopening the Elmhurst station. We first heard about it in mid-2012 when The Journal reported on some LIRR officials who were considering an in-fill station. In 2013, […]


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