North Shore residents talk LIRR service amid ESA

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Some residents anticipate the new terminal promised by the 11.1 billion East Side Access project, and see it as a future shortcut in their daily commute, while others are doubtful it will ever be completed. Some are mum on the issue.

Reporters from the Herald Gazette spoke with commuters about the current service on the Oyster Bay LIRR line, if they believed the ESA project would help or hinder their commute, and what other strides could be made to improve rail transportation.

Sea Cliff and Glen Head

Glen Head resident John Rebecchi works on the East Side of Manhattan. His current commute requires him to transfer at the Queens’ Woodside station, which includes the daily expense of the subway. “It begins to add up,” he said. “LIRR service right now is unreliable with frequent delays and slow service. East Side Access is essential to Long Island residents.”

Rebecchi also hopes the MTA will implement recommendations made by the Regional Plan Association to align it with both NJ Transit and MetroNorth.

Commuter Caren Havekost-Miller, of Glen Head, said the project would bring “needed improvement” to crowded cars and terminals. “With ESA there will be much fewer people in the subways and in Penn Station at peak times; this is beginner’s logistics,” she said. “The problem is it isn’t going to be anywhere near a $12 billion improvement.”

Ronni Johnson, of Sea Cliff, expressed her frustrations with LIRR’s inconsistent service. “It’s awful, and Penn Station is a disaster with stampedes because of last minute track announcements,” she said. “I have commuted on Metro North and it’s a world of difference. Maybe ESA would help, who knows?”

Glen Head resident Jim McLellan said, “ESA is a publicity stunt, entirely unnecessary, insanely expensive, and irresponsible for a system so old and poorly maintained.” He added that the LIRR necessitated maintenance from business professionals rather than politicians.

Fellow resident Joseph DeDona agreed. “The last I heard the government subsidizes the commuter rail lines, so I question the management of the system,” he said. “I think the LIRR service is average, at best, but I also think we could benefit from increased rail lines and scheduled train stops.”

Glen Cove

In Glen Cove, residents thought the Oyster Bay line could use a little more love, and said that the ESA project shouldn’t be a priority. “ Time for the Oyster Bay line to get with modern times,” said Perry Filippone, of Glen Cove. “[The] current schedule is from the 50's and doesn't serve the population . . . More frequent trains in [the morning] and [evening] rush hours, [for example].” Filippone added that the EAS didn’t include changes to the line, which he said, “should be the first to see improvements.”

Doris Meadows agreed. “The Oyster Bay line is quite challenging to try to use,” she said, “which is why so many people find themselves going to Manhasset or Hicksville instead of a nearby station on the Oyster Bay line.”

For some, however, the project will mean an easier commute “I take the Metro North frequently,” Justin Capalbo said, “so it will be nice to not have to get off at Penn [Station] and take the shuttle to Grand Central [Terminal].” He added, “I am excited!”

Others expressed that they were sour at the MTA in general. “The LIRR needs honest competition,” Eileen Coles said. “They hold a monopoly over our commute.”

Coles added that she suspected that the MTA, “did it's best to sabotage our ferry.” She added, “We don't need or want a LIRR expansion.”