Home LIRR Re-re-examining an Elmhurst LIRR station

Re-re-examining an Elmhurst LIRR station

by Benjamin Kabak

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

Once upon a time, New York City didn’t know what to do with its transit infrastructure. Investment was nil, and stations that were commuter rail in name were shut down throughout Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. Now, nearly 30 years later, with the city’s population booming thanks, in part, to an increased investment in transit, these shuttered stations are under the microscope. Can we reopen them? Should we?

Lately, attention has focused around Elmhurst. For a few years now, local politicians have been angling to reopen an LIRR station lost to declining 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 the process: a ridership survey.

A few weeks ago, shortly before I went on vacation, Reps. Joe Crowley, Grace Meng and NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm along with LIRR President Helena Williams announced a survey aimed at collecting data from Elmhurst residents about their travel patterns. It’s another step toward reactivating the station. “As we continue to work with the LIRR to explore the possibility of restoring service to Elmhurst, I want to encourage as many members of our community to participate in the study and make sure their voices are heard,” Crowley said in a statement. “Reopening the Elmhurst Station will increase residents’ access to Midtown Manhattan and help the area reach its economic potential. It will also open the door for all New Yorkers to experience the rich diversity and culture Elmhurst has to offer.”

Meng echoed Crowley. “Reopening this LIRR station would be a huge boon for Elmhurst,” she said. “It would greatly benefit local residents with increased access to public transportation and service to Manhattan, and it would provide a major economic boost for local businesses.”

The survey itself begin at the end of June with two parts. The first involves a written component mailed to households within a half-mile radius of the station site at Broadway and Whitney Ave. An in-person survey will be conducted at nearby subway stations and near the Elmhurst Hospital Center. According to Crowley’s office, reactivating the station could help Elmhurst see improved transit connections. Right now, it hosts local stops along the Queens Boulevard line and a few 7 stations near the neighborhood’s northern border. The politicians don’t consider these stations to be part of an “efficient” network providing direct access to Manhattan’s job centers.

According to a few unpublished studies I’ve seen, the Elmhurst reactivation could be a rather reasonable project at a time when spending on transit improvements and expansions has reached absurd levels. Some estimates peg restoring service at as little as $30-$35 million, and Crowley noted that East Side Access could ease congestion concerns that could occur were service to resume at Elmhurst. If the ridership survey bears out the proponents’ hopes, it seems like a no-brainer.

Even as this effort moves forward, I’m still left with the same thoughts I had last year: Until the fare to go from Elmhurst to Manhattan is more in line with the cost of a Metrocard swipe, very few people will use the service. Elmhurst is a solidly middle class neighborhood in mid-Queens with relatively good subway service, and individual peak rides within the city can cost upwards of $7 on LIRR. Harmonize fares; bring the price. Then, if you build it, they will come.

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Berk32 July 9, 2013 - 12:22 am

Don’t really see the point of this.

M/R station is nearby – nobody is going to use the LIRR in this area if it’s going to cost twice as much to get to the city and only save a few minutes.

SEAN July 9, 2013 - 8:54 am

I actually think it’s a good idea. Transit expantions bring with it revitalization to the neighborhoods around such projects. That said, service to both Kew Gardens & Forest Hills is more frequent on weekends than durring the week. So there maybe more worthwhile expantion projects out there such as MNR service to Penn Station via the Hellgate line with stops in Co-op City & Park Chester, but you cant ignore oppertunities like reopening Elmhurst station when they arise.

To those commenters below who want to see LIRR & MNR fares within city boundries the same as the subway to atract aditional riders, I agree. Perhaps with newer smartcard fare collection systems things like cross system fares can be programed in.

alen July 9, 2013 - 9:53 am

a lot of people use the Forest Hills LIRR station, and that has express trains a block away.

the trains are not as crowded as the subway, you can find a seat during rush hour a lot of times, 15 minutes into penn station compared to forever on the local M/R trains. you can transfer at roosevelt ave but its like japan over there. the trains arrive packed and you have to fight your way in

BenW July 9, 2013 - 11:04 am

To define “a lot” a bit more closely, wikipedia says that Forest Hills got 1100/weekday in 2006—assume a nice growth level and do some back-of-the-envelope calculations, and you still get somewhat fewer passengers than my local stop on the G. And I don’t think anybody would be proposing an infill station on the G for $35 million.

alen July 9, 2013 - 11:09 am

i see 50 to 100 some people waiting for the 8:12 and 8:25 trains. now a lot of these people are very affluent. if it wasn’t for the LIRR they would probably drive into manhattan rather than be packed like sardines into the E train.

the LIRR takes off some of the slack of the E train which you literally cannot fit any more people into at roosevelt

Frank B July 10, 2013 - 10:57 pm

Spending $35 million on a station to serve 1100 people a weekday when there is more frequent, cheaper service just 3 blocks away seems like an egregiously stupid way to waste taxpayer money.

Seriously. If we’re going to piss money away on a LIRR station, why not Woodhaven Junction? That’s a subway station that has had to undergo some kind of maintenance even though it has been abandoned since 1976; it probably isn’t in terrible shape, likely no worse than many subway stations; the staircases still exist, and its in a transit-starved area of Queens, about equal distances from both the BMT Jamaica Line and the IND Fulton Street Line (Liberty Avenue El).

So why wouldn’t we just reactivate Woodhaven Junction? Hell, if they ever reactivated the Rockaway Line for Subway service, it would provide a very convient transfer. Elmhurst just seems like a way to burn money and for politicians to earn brownie points.

Sharon July 11, 2013 - 4:15 pm

It is purely a rush hour service which is ok. I know many people by me in brooklyn along the Brighton line that pay double to ride the express bus which is actually slower. As long as they don’t spend ridiculous money to reopen the station it is a win win. Ahh here is where the unhinge dead concequence of Ada comes in.

Henry July 9, 2013 - 11:57 am

Well, both Forest Hills and Kew Gardens are also only four-car stations – longer stations would presumably be able to fit more people.

A lot of the LIRR stations would attract more people if they were just improved on – the Flushing one, for instance, is a mere block away from the 11th busiest subway station in the city, but it’s difficult to find an entrance or exit to it. The entrances for the separate platforms are located two blocks away from each other as well. This is something that should be fixed.

SEAN July 9, 2013 - 4:12 pm

Commuter trains where possible SHOULD BE USED to releave subway overcrowding.

The 2 & 5 opperate nearly ajacent to the Harlem Line in the Bronx.

The 1 runs several blocks east of the Hudson Line also in The Bronx.
In Queens, The LIRR as we already know is in close poximity to the 7, E, F, J, M, R & Z. With Downtown Brooklyn the connections between the LIRR & all the subway lines at Atlantic Avenue speeks for it’s self.

Alex C July 9, 2013 - 12:30 am

The fare is the key issue for ridership. Location is nice and all, but with subways (and a couple of express bus routes nearby) also providing service to Manhattan, who would pay $7+ to take LIRR?

alen July 9, 2013 - 10:05 am

$177 a month
if you have transit benefits at work which max out at $240 this year, its a non-issue

Benjamin Kabak July 9, 2013 - 10:12 am

How is it a non-issue? It’s pre-tax money, not free money. That adds up to over $600 more per year over an unlimited Metrocard and doesn’t include any additional subway rides one may take outside of a daily commute.

alen July 9, 2013 - 10:24 am

a lot of people in the area have cars for personal travel.

for some people the comfort of the LIRR will be worth it. just the fact that you aren’t packed in like sardines is a big plus for a lot of people

Benjamin Kabak July 9, 2013 - 10:28 am

Your arguments are too vague to support here investment. Without concrete numbers, added comfort “some people” and “a lot of people” doesn’t do anything to boost the argument for spending over $30 million on a station that, without restructuring the fare, won’t have much of a ridership.

alen July 9, 2013 - 11:01 am

they will probably make up the investment with people taking trains to the mets game. i swear i see very little people get on and off at the woodside LIRR station and yet it is still around. why not elmhurst?

Benjamin Kabak July 9, 2013 - 11:10 am

Why would you take the train to Elmhurst to go to a Mets game? There’s already an LIRR stop at Citifield and anyone going from Elmhurst to a Mets game will take the 7 train all of six stops.

alen July 9, 2013 - 11:18 am

because Citi field is on that line. i’ll have to go to woodside then transfer to the port washington branch which goes through elmhurst, past citi field, etc. i took it once a few years ago from Penn.

life is not like wal mart always buying the cheapest. sometimes people pay more for more comfort. two weeks ago i took the MNR to the yankee game. lots of people got on at 125th street. they could have taken the subway, but the MNR trains are a lot more comfortable

AG July 9, 2013 - 4:26 pm

very true about the yankee games.

SEAN July 9, 2013 - 6:09 pm

Infact over half of the parking lot & garage spaces at Yankee stadium remain empty durring games. Most patrens use trains to get to the game as noted in the NYT.

AG July 10, 2013 - 5:45 pm

Sean – yeah I can believe it. The Metro North platforms are as jammed as the subway platforms a lot of times at game nights… I know they wanted to knock one down and build a hotel… but now that the Yankees are part owners of the new MLS team coming in 2015 – I wonder if they won’t consolidate the garages and build that relatively small stadium on some of that land… Especially since it seems the negotiations for a Queens stadium hit snags.

BenW July 9, 2013 - 11:32 am

And to close the loop, the “very little people” of Woodside is five times the “lots” of Forest Hills. Honestly, these numbers are not hard to find.

alen July 9, 2013 - 11:44 am

i don’t know. i’ll take the 8:12 or 8:25 from FH, and that stop always has a lot more people than woodside.
on the way back i’ll usually be on the 4:42 from Penn and same thing. i swear it seems like a third of the train gets off at FH and only a few people at woodside.

Henry July 9, 2013 - 11:58 am

More trains serve Woodside, so there’s less opportunity for crowding.

Forest Hills also has all of its people squished onto a four-car platform, while Woodside is full-length.

SEAN July 9, 2013 - 4:23 pm

True, plus I’ve been at Forest Hills station & I’m uncertain how the platforms could be lengthend. The eastbound platform has the longest ramp I have ever sene at any commuter rail station around here. Having said that, the station was nicely restored a few years ago.

Bolwerk July 9, 2013 - 10:42 am

Hi, Ryan!

It would be better if they were packed in like sardines, just like subway riders. That means the idea is successful, and the subway is seeing some relief.

Bolwerk July 9, 2013 - 10:43 am

For that matter, it’s especially silly not have standing room overflow on a service that practically makes no additional stops before its destination. If they are standing on the LIRR, they are still better off than standing on the subway.

Henry July 10, 2013 - 1:24 am

Trains leaving Jamaica during the AM Peak and Penn during the PM Peak are already SRO. There are people standing in the aisles.

If you turn 2×3 seating into 2×2, you presumably come up with more space, but the amount of overflow that the LIRR can handle is over exaggerated.

pete July 9, 2013 - 12:48 am

Nobody will use an Elmhurst LIRR station just like nobody uses the Flushing LIRR station (50K a day for Main Street IRT vs 2K for LIRR) or St Albans (200 a day for LIRR) station. They all take NYCT instead because it is cheaper, and they will have to pay a NYCT fare ANYWAY when they get off at Penn. People who can afford LIRR, will not live in low income Elmhurst.

Roxie July 9, 2013 - 1:39 am

In a smarter world the MTA would charge a subway fare for in-city LIRR/MNR rides, with free transfers to/from buses; effectively the MNR and LIRR would be extensions of the subway.

Hell, maybe if LI decided to try and underfund their share of the LIRR any more, the MTA could just cut them off at the border and quite literally make the LIRR just another part of the subway. (hey, a girl can dream, right?)

Henry July 9, 2013 - 12:00 pm

No one uses the Flushing LIRR station because the entrances are too hard to find. That station needs a serious redesign of entrances and exits, because in no world should the exit for the LI-bound platform be two blocks away from the NY-bound platform entrance (and to top it all off, the NY-bound entrance isn’t even on Main St!)

If they made entering the station look easier and less shady (the entrances are pretty much alleyways) then more people would be attracted to the service.

Dan July 9, 2013 - 8:53 pm

I think a lot of the Flushing ridership for the LIRR is really commuters between there and the offices in Great Neck, Bayside or Port Washington (some of whom will then transfer to buses for perhaps a 10-20 minute ride to their final destination). Having ridden the line on a daily basis for a few years now, that’s my impression (which may or may not be entirely true).

Also not sure where new entrances/stairs/elevators can be built given the surrounding area/elevation drop from street to platform.

Sort of like the Bronx MNR stations on the Harlem Line tend to serve workers to Westchester moreso than people who would pay more for a quicker ride to Midtown East than the #5.

Henry July 9, 2013 - 11:03 pm

The majority of people use it to get to points east, yes, but that’s because it doesn’t attract any of the people transferring from buses in the area. The exits are poor and the signage is poorer, so there’s no incentive to actually use the station for regular commuter use.

I’m certain that the Flushing BID would be more than happy to accept an upgraded station – build a mezzanine over the current footprint of the station, and add a new station house where the current exit for the eastbound trains are (the old entrance to westbound trains would be closed.) The building next to it isn’t particularly well-liked anyways.

Matt July 9, 2013 - 12:52 am

Nothing more needs to be said than what has already been. The M R is literally a block away. People in that neighborhood won’t pay more to save 10 minutes of time, plus I dont think the destination for a lot of people in Elmhurst is a 9 to 5 job in Midtown.

You’d think the politicians would know their residents. This is just so they can go on record as saying they restored train service. Either that or they think Elmhurst will be the next hot neighborhood of Queens and will have much different demographics in 5-10 years.

al July 10, 2013 - 3:01 pm

Restoring the station allows for alternative trips to Queens Blvd line riders during maintenance shutdowns. When CBTC gets to the Queens Blvd truck, the NYCTA can shut down the Queens Plaza to 74th st/Broadway section. 7 train maintenance and installation shutdowns will also benefit from a LIRR stop there.

There are also the tie ups that occur during rush hr. With the train delay info up on the MTA page, Queens Blvd riders at Grand and Elmhurst can circumvent the delays.

Bolwerk July 9, 2013 - 1:18 am

To the above comments: they’ll use it if the MTA just stops doing it wrong. Extra capacity on the LIRR is almost free relief to the subway if fares and fare collection could be harmonized.

WTF should cost $30-$35M though? There is a station footprint already there, and I assume they need some concrete slabs for the platform, accessibility, and TVMs. It can be unmanned, right?

Adirondacker12800 July 9, 2013 - 3:03 am

they’ll use it if the MTA just stops doing it wrong

No they won’t. The subway is faster unless you are going to Penn Station. The subway train comes every few minutes.

Bolwerk July 9, 2013 - 10:23 am

No, the subway is more frequent. It’s not faster. And there is no reason people that would find a trip to 34th Street convenient would shun LIRR if it costs the same.

Henry July 9, 2013 - 11:09 pm

With East Side Access, the LIRR now provides a direct competitor to the (7). A fair number of people transfer at Grand Central, and even more transfer at QBP to take advantage of the easier, quicker transfer to the Lex.

Henry July 9, 2013 - 12:02 pm

All LIRR stations have booth agents, to handle special forms for things like discounted passes. (Buying a student pass requires a school official to sign a two page long paper, which has to be processed by a station agent. This is probably the case for other types of passes as well.)

Kevin Walsh July 9, 2013 - 1:38 am

In fact, intracity fares for all LIRR lines are too high during the week. More people would use the lines for local travel and the lower fares would be offset. But the MTA ultimately always considers the LIRR a means of bringing Long Island people into the city through the dirty Queens.

Dan July 9, 2013 - 8:56 pm

Not sure why the fares should be equal though, since the LIRR and MNR are (especially once you get beyond stations like Flushing-Main) most likely quicker and more comfortable rides into Midtown Manhattan than a bus and/or subway trip.

Henry July 10, 2013 - 1:25 am

Express bus fare would be ideal, since that’s the “premium” rate for NYCT. At the very least, a LIRR fare should also cover Metrocard fare.

I really don’t understand this thought that the LIRR has spare capacity during the peak, because it really doesn’t.

Dan July 10, 2013 - 11:39 pm

and the Port Washington line trains definitely don’t, especially the ones that are full or partial expresses (skipping some or all of the Queens stops)

Alon Levy July 10, 2013 - 1:44 am

The 2 and 3 aren’t more expensive to ride than the 1, and the express trains to Stamford aren’t more expensive than the locals.

BBnet3000 July 9, 2013 - 6:14 am

When the LIRR runs like RER or S-Bahn we can talk about reopening all the outer borough stations. Until then, dont bother.

As has already been said in this thread, nobody rides LIRR at any of the other stations in Queens, and they arent about to start now in Elmhurst (which is also one station away from the express subway at Jackson Heights).

Henry July 10, 2013 - 1:28 am

Bayside cracks the top ten LIRR stations. All Port Washington Line stations save for Willets Point (for obvious reasons), Flushing (due to poor access) and Murray Hill (short station on a large curve) have high ridership for the LIRR, relatively speaking. Woodside, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, and Jamaica also see high numbers of commuters relative to their size and the amount of service they receive.

“Nobody rides LIRR at any of the other stations in Queens” is a misguided generalization that helps nobody.

Alon Levy July 10, 2013 - 1:49 am

Forest Hills sees a very small number of users relative to the amount of residential and commercial development near the station. It should be getting 30,000 boardings a day. Jamaica should be in the six figures.

BBnet3000 July 10, 2013 - 6:22 am

Bayside doesnt have the subway competing with it.

Phillip Roncoroni July 10, 2013 - 5:59 pm

Exactly. It’s a 30+ minute bus ride on the Q12 or Q13 just to get to the nearest subway station from Bayside.

Henry July 10, 2013 - 6:10 pm

Woodside and Jamaica do.

The fact that Bayside doesn’t get served by the subway doesn’t make your inital statement any less erroneous.

David Brown July 9, 2013 - 6:53 am

I suspect the MTA idea of reopening the Station is almost like “Transformers”, basically more than meets the eye, and that is generating good will (and of course, finding more votes) in order to fund future projects going forward (see the need for the Federal Government helping to fund the Second Ave Subway expansion). The MTA knows that Station will be rarely used, because the only reasons why anyone goes to Elmhurst, is to use the nearby Queens Blvd Shopping Strip (Rego Park) or Elmhurst Hospital. Not to mention the fact, that even commuters from more affluent areas such as Kew Gardens & Forest Hills, do not use the LIRR heavily used except during rush hours. Another example of this would be a Metro-North stop in Hunts Point. Do I expect to see a lot of people using a Hunts Point stop? No (I bet even Elmhurst will be more heavily used), but if building Hunts Point Station means getting the help of Jeff Klein (D-Bronx)to get certain projects funded, such as stuff related to Long Island, you tolerate it. The same applies to Elmhurst Station, you accept it as a cost of doing business in New York.

Bolwerk July 9, 2013 - 10:38 am

First of all, the MTA usually doesn’t like investing in new projects. The extent of its imagination is usually throwing more buses at a problem. It’s the city and state that have shown occasional interest in making investments in new infrastructure.

As for usage, what do you consider “a lot of people”? The discussion is about adding stations to existing rail lines where trains already run, in the case of Elmhurst a station where there had once been a station. This is not an expensive proposition. It only needs the high hundreds of low thousands of daily riders to be successful.

Also, consider that even if it doesn’t contribute much revenue, it does relieve the subway at least a little in one of the most crowded corridors in the city.

Henry July 10, 2013 - 1:28 am

The MTA doesn’t like things it sees as difficult. This is literally the easiest project they’ve come up with in a long time (build a station where a station used to exist and add an elevator).

BBnet3000 July 10, 2013 - 6:25 am

Wait until you see what it costs the MTA to build two platforms and even 2 zigzag ramps rather than an elevator. Tens of millions?

Henry July 12, 2013 - 12:40 pm

Something tells me that the two zigzag ramps would probably cost more than the elevator.

Henry July 9, 2013 - 12:03 pm

The LIRR doesn’t really carry many people off-peak anyways.

Besides, new ridership for very little marginal operational cost? I’ll take that!

AG July 9, 2013 - 4:31 pm

Well considering how many thousands of ppl work in Hunts Point – that station has a high potential for use… plus it will be a few blocks from the #6.
Then there are the reverse commuters from the Bronx going up to Westchester and Connecticut.

AlexB July 9, 2013 - 9:38 am

Seems like this would only work if they offered a shorter, much more frequent service on this line. Something like 15 minute headways out to about Bayside and a fare that’s equal to or less than an express bus. Just opening the station and then skipping it most of the time (like the MTA does with most stations near the subway) isn’t going to do anyone much good.

Henry July 9, 2013 - 12:04 pm

Port Washington is a strange LIRR line because it gets extremely frequent service. Service off-peak is half-hourly, and hourly during the overnight period, but that’s very good for the LIRR.

Dan July 9, 2013 - 9:01 pm

That’s because not only do Bayside, Great Neck, and Port Washington (those three stops in particular) have a fair few passengers because of their populations, but the whole line is close enough to Manhattan (a local train is a bit under 50 minutes) that it’s attractive to use at virtually any time.

Plus of course it serves Flushing Meadow Park and on weekend event days the LIRR runs half-hourly trains to help out the #7.

Henry July 10, 2013 - 1:30 am

The inner LIRR lines (Port Washington, Far Rockaway, Hempstead, West Hempstead, and Long Beach) should all be converted to all-day 30 minute service, either via shuttles or direct trains.

It’s really sad that of all places, Toronto is going to provide more comprehensive commuter rail than we do, and they don’t even own the trackage they operate on.

Alon Levy July 10, 2013 - 4:21 pm

Toronto actually owns most of the trackage, and is progressively acquiring more from CP and CN.

Henry July 10, 2013 - 6:12 pm

Wasn’t most of Toronto’s transit-owned trackage built recently, for the sole purpose of removing restrictions imposed by freight companies?

Alon Levy July 11, 2013 - 11:22 am

I don’t think they’ve added tracks, but I could be wrong. The ROWs are all old.

Alon Levy July 10, 2013 - 1:51 am

Yes, but. Half-hourly service is fine at the scale of New York-New Haven, but urban service needs much more. The Berlin and Paris branches run every 10-20 minutes all day; in Zurich, where there’s more branching, the inner station pairs offer similarly high frequencies with interlining.

Larry Littlefield July 9, 2013 - 9:49 am

This station would only serve those traveling to within walking distance of Penn Station and unwilling to use the subway. And since 1985, the subway has gotten much better and Queens has become far less affluent and snobby. This neighborhood in particular.

Jerrold July 9, 2013 - 10:05 am

What about the “City Ticket”?
Perhaps they should consider making that all the time,
instead of just on weekends.
The same applies to the Metro-North stations in The Bronx.

Bolwerk July 9, 2013 - 3:43 pm

It’d be great, if you could use MC and offer a transfer to subway/buses. But they insist on doing it wrong.

alen July 9, 2013 - 3:51 pm

will never happen since it would leave money on the table

lots of LIRR riders work downtown. i’ve seen them head to the E train as soon as they get off at Penn. and to the numbered trains at Atlantic Ave.

AG July 9, 2013 - 4:35 pm

That’s why it was important to get the tunnel with the 9/11 funds to get airport and LIRR commuters downtown. Especially with East Side Access now coming on… it would be even more useful. Not to mention easing the burden on Penn Station.

Jeff July 9, 2013 - 4:50 pm

Money on the table?

This is a public agency we’re talking about here. MTA isn’t some kind of for-profit corporation. If it benefits the public in a great way they are obliged to consider it.

The real answer is politics. Long Islanders don’t want people from Queens to stuff their trains full and don’t want their nice and comfy rides to turn into overcrowded subway rides. Same for certain areas of Queens who don’t want poor people to take trains into their neighborhood or don’t want increase level of service to run through their backyards. Because inevitably a drop in fare would lead to an increase in ridership which would necessitate more service.

Henry July 10, 2013 - 1:31 am

The LIRR has people standing all over the aisles already. Adding even more standees on a train not designed for them might be unadvisable, especially when it makes the movement of fare inspectors/conductors nearly impossible.

Jeff July 10, 2013 - 10:05 am

That’s why I said service will need to be increased if they drop the price. If they convert the LIRR to more rapid-transit like headways like they do it in every other continent in the world there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work.

Henry July 10, 2013 - 6:13 pm

If you can find the space in Penn to do it, then by all means, it should be done.

ESA is going to add a lot of capacity, but will LIRR be using all of it?

Bolwerk July 10, 2013 - 10:41 am

How does it leave money on the table? WTF does that even mean?

alen July 10, 2013 - 11:07 am

lots of people in long island work downtown and take the LIRR to Penn or Atlantic Ave and then transfer to the subway. or maybe the east side and take the subway from Penn.

why let them use the subway for “free” with the purchase of a monthly pass? not like they have a choice to not take the subway or walk the 30-60 minutes or so from Penn. same for people who go to atlantic ave and take the subway to the battery park area.

no sense in not making them pay when they are more than willing to pay

Bolwerk July 10, 2013 - 1:18 pm

You let them use it for “free” with the monthly pass for the same reason you let them use the subway for “free” with the monthly pass. The agency and the distance are the same.

People who live further out on LI can get a different kind of pass, and pay more.

llqbtt July 9, 2013 - 10:15 am

How does this compare to the Bronx/Westchester/CT reverse commutation. Is there are similar benefit to be derived here, such as transferring at Woodside for E/B service?

tacony palmyra July 9, 2013 - 10:45 am

There aren’t enough job sites that are walkable to transit as you get further out into Queens and Long Island though. The reverse commute numbers on Metro-North are a reflection of the mini-job centers that have sprung up in White Plains and Stamford. Until they loosen zoning around the stations in Eastern Queens and Nassau, it’s a moot point.

People love the idea of opening new stations. If you ask people in Elmhurst whether they’d like a LIRR station I’m sure they’ll say yes. But few will use it.

Henry July 9, 2013 - 12:08 pm

I suspect the situation to be closer to Bayside, the 8th busiest station in the system, since the neighborhood has similar income levels and demographics. Then again, the local “snob” factor isn’t nearly as high.

AG July 9, 2013 - 4:35 pm

Melville has a lot of jobs.

David Brown July 9, 2013 - 10:57 pm

Which is a big reason why Republic Station on 110, should (and hopefully will) be the first LIRR Station to be reopened.

SEAN July 9, 2013 - 6:33 pm

Mini job centers? Wait a minute!

White Plains atracts over 200,000 workers each day & more of them are riding MNR. Stamford’s CBD has been growing substantially over the past few decades & along with that comes increasing use of MNR there as well. Infact non Manhattan commuters are amung the recent drivers of MNR’s increasing ridership, about 6% per year acording to recent statistics I read.

Alon Levy July 10, 2013 - 1:58 am

Mineola has a fair number of jobs and a fair amount of redevelopable land. Ditto Hempstead and Great Neck. Hicksville has somewhat fewer jobs but a lot more low-value parking lots that could be turned into walkable streets and high-density office and retail. The Babylon Branch stations could all get the Washington Metro/Vancouver SkyTrain treatment.

Henry July 10, 2013 - 6:15 pm

But that all depends on Long Islanders becoming more friendly towards dense development and revising long-standing zoning regulations, in the place where the post-war suburban model was pioneered. Do they even want it?

AG July 10, 2013 - 10:37 pm

they have no choice…. they need to be able to keep young ppl on the island… but they can’t when they have almost all single family homes. I forget the ratio – but LI planners stated that Westchester has a MUCH higher ratio of rental housing.

Alon Levy July 11, 2013 - 11:24 am

“Hi. You guys have a farebox recovery ratio of 0.26. That’s how much it costs to provide one-way highly peaked commuter rail service. Your call on whether fares go up to match NYCT and Metro-North farebox recovery or whether you make it legal to build things that encourage reverse commuting.”

David Alexander July 12, 2013 - 3:31 am

Given how few Long Island residents work in the core, I suspect that a decent number of people wouldn’t care if the railroad shut down, especially in Suffolk County. Long Islanders see density as more traffic and more minorities, and simply want their neighbourhoods to stay the same *forever*.

Henry July 12, 2013 - 12:41 pm

Then they basically give the finger and contract the service out to Veolia, who defers maintenance to make it look like they’re providing more for less.

We’ve seen this cycle before with Nassau.

Tower18 July 9, 2013 - 11:21 am

Honestly, this doesn’t seem that useful. If you want to put in an Elmhurst LIRR stop, put it where the tracks cross Queens Blvd instead. There’s no subway anywhere near that area, and plenty of housing. It’s kind of a low-density no mans land, because there’s no transit.

But it still doesn’t seem worth the investment. It’s like 25-30 minutes to Penn Station via M/R to E train, and if you’re going elsewhere in Midtown, even better to stay on M/R. People won’t pay that much extra for LIRR to save less than 10 minutes, and that’s if they work right on top of Penn Station. If they work anywhere north or east of Penn, LIRR is a time-loser. Yes, ESA will help a bit, but still, then why not take the R or the 7.

If the pricing structure changed, that’s a whole different story, and then people will just take whichever makes the most sense for them.

Jerrold July 9, 2013 - 2:00 pm

As for the large number of people taking MNRR from 125th St. to the Yankee game, most of them must have come down on the Harlem Line, and were now taking the Hudson Line train to the Yankee Stadium stop.

Jerrold July 9, 2013 - 2:03 pm

P.S. I originally tried to post the above message as a Reply to the “125th St. to Yankee Stadium” Comment, but some kind of glitch prevented me from putting it there.

AlexB July 9, 2013 - 8:38 pm

I forgot to note earlier and I’m surprised no one else has mentioned it, but this is the only place in Queens where one could transfer between the Queens Blvd line and the LIRR. That by itself is reason to re-open the station. Doing so opens up a ton of 1 transfer trips between all the stops on the Queens Blvd local and the Port Washington line. Steinway and Woodhaven Blvd are major retail and entertainment center and you just connected them directly to the only train line serving Northeast Queens, Bayside, Douglaston, etc.

Dan July 9, 2013 - 9:07 pm

I’ve thought about this when riding by the site. The issue is whether a pair of elevators (one for each side platform) and possibly underground passage for the one block between the LIRR tracks and one of the current subway station entrances can be built. Plus two more elevators to the subway platform. Remember that all of this has to be wheelchair-accessible since it’s new.

Might be possible. I don’t know the answer to that.

Frank B July 11, 2013 - 4:10 am

Just remember that in Williamsburg, the MTA won’t even consider a transfer between the IND Crosstown Line and the BMT Jamaica Line; thousands would use this connection each and everyday, and such a passageway would only be two or three blocks long; this would provide G riders with access to both IND 6th Avenue Line and BMT Nassau Line services; something they lack now, and something that would take pressure off the BMT Canarsie Line.

It’s strange, since the L is so packed each and everyday, that they wouldn’t even consider opening the shuttered Hewes Street Exits (Currently they’re emergency exit only) and providing a Metrocard transfer; thousands would use this transfer.

So, knowing this, would you ever think, in all honesty, that the MTA would spend millions on an underground, out-of-fare control passageway between a subway station and an LIRR station that would only see a few hundred passengers a day, tops?

C’mon. Not going to happen.

Henry July 12, 2013 - 12:42 pm

Well, most construction projects have to be specified in the Capital Plan, so we may very well see that in the next one (which apparently has less emphasis on big ticket items).

Jeff July 10, 2013 - 10:00 am

One can transfer between the Queens Blvd and LIRR lines in Forest Hills.

Though that is Main Line only. This would give a connection to the Port Washington line.

Phillip Roncoroni July 10, 2013 - 6:03 pm

Except the zone 1 to 1 fare is absolutely insane. Why pay that when you can take an E/F express to Forest Hills for 1/3rd the price and maybe ten minutes of extra commute time?

Henry July 10, 2013 - 6:16 pm

Not to mention that the frequency and stopping patterns make no sense whatsoever.

Stu Sutcliffe July 10, 2013 - 12:18 pm

You forgot about Forest Hills and Jamaica. Closer connections to the Queens Boulevard line than in Elmhurst (not an argument against rebuilding, just stating fact).

Bill Kelly July 9, 2013 - 8:47 pm

The excellent model here is the London Overground system developed over the past decade or so, which converted underused rail lines in and around London into a highly useful adjunct to the Underground, with a single fare system so that you can painlessly transfer from one system to the other. If the MTA actually functioned as a regional transportation system instead of a holding company for dueling systems we could make very creative and cost-effective use of our existing infrastructure.

Henry July 10, 2013 - 6:17 pm

The problem with this is that London is under a zone fare system, which makes it easier for them to recoup costs. New York’s flat fare doesn’t even come close to matching the LIRR’s cost-per-rider, and that’s before factoring in things like debt service and pensions.

marv July 9, 2013 - 9:55 pm

The focus should should be on having more Queens users from Jamaica, Flushing, and east of these points make greater use of the LIRR. This will be best done by a combination of:

*reduced in city fares
*increased schedule
*better transfers to buses including a realignment of routes.

By switching these users from the subways, the #7 and Queens Blvd IND users west of Jamaica and Flushing will have less congested trains.

In the long term, the Atlantic Avenue Branch to brooklyn, the Port Washington Branch, and one of branches between Jamaica and Valley Stream should be converted to subway use.

Henry July 10, 2013 - 1:34 am

The problem with this “long term” plan is that there is no place for these trains to go once they hit the Main Line. The Atlantic Branch is probably the only easy one to sever, but even then, the (A) and (J) are relatively short distances away, so it’d basically be an express train to Downtown Brooklyn, adding to the crush on Manhattan-bound service at Atlantic.

Kevin July 9, 2013 - 10:17 pm

A reasonable compromise is to peg LIRR tickets in the City Zone at the same price as the express bus. It won’t be the same price as a subway ride but it’d go a long way to attract more riders rather than the steep peak one-way ticket now.

Henry July 10, 2013 - 1:34 am

At the very least, a LIRR ticket should cover a NYCT transfer.

alen July 10, 2013 - 10:03 am

they should bring jamaica back into the city zone. now it ends at kew gardens

Peter July 15, 2013 - 11:58 am

Yes! The LIRR fare from Kew Gardens to Jamaica, a three-minute ride that crosses the fare zone, is absurd!

Holly August 6, 2015 - 8:35 pm

I have lived here for 30 years so right after railroad was closed. I have been waiting for this to happen. I saw some work being done on the station and it occurred to me that hopefully the station could be reopening. My issue is I live some 3 blocks from the station and received no survey. What’s going on? Also lets make sure that the folks whose first language may not be English are given access to the survey as well. Lets not make assumptions about what the neighborhood wants lets make sure we all are heard. Yay or nay.


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