The new Elmont-UBS Arena Long Island Rail Road station opened on Nov. 16, four days before the New York Islanders’ first home game at the arena and amid concerns about the Belmont Park project raised by area residents.
An eastbound train from Jamaica — a 10-minute ride — was the first to arrive, and the first fare-based train from Penn Station rolled in last Friday night. Beginning the following day, eastbound Hempstead-branch trains were to be offered at the station before and after all events at the arena.
Only the station’s eastbound platform has been complete. Westbound trains are not expected to be offered at the station until next summer. Until then, LIRR customers from other branches can transfer at Jamaica for connecting service to Elmont-UBS.
“Shame on UBS Arena MTA and NICE Bus for failing to provide additional Q2, Q110, N6 bus service for its workers and fans going to and from UBS arena in Elmont,” said Charlton D’souza, president of Passengers United, a grass-roots organization made up of bus, subway and LIRR customers that advocates for public transportation reform.
Passengers United is opposed to the Hempstead train service to the new station, currently offered only on an hourly basis on event days. The organization is also concerned about the distance between public bus stops nd the new arena, and overcrowding on those buses.
“In addition, there are only two shuttle trains before and after the games to the old Belmont Park station,” D’souza added, calling for additional service.
He said that members of his organization were concerned about overcrowded public buses and the shuttle buses offered to the Queens Village LIRR station following the Islanders’ first game at the arena. “Residents are concerned buses will be delayed by traffic running on 20 minute regular schedules, which means Queens passengers won't be able to board due to overcrowding,” D’souza wrote in an email. “We are calling for bus stops to have lighted shelters and be moved closer to the arena along Hempstead Turnpike … We are calling on [the] LIRR to run more than two shuttle trains.”
D’souza and Passengers United held a press conference to voice concerns the day before the Islanders’ Nov. 20 home opener, at a bus stop straddling the Queens border and the Cross Island Expressway. Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages highlighted concerns raised by area residents about the new station in a statement.
Solages said that residents were disappointed “that the future train station — which was promised for Elmont — will be located in Bellerose Terrace.” He highlighted other concerns as well, such as how Elmont residents will be able to reach bus stops along Hempstead Turnpike and the station, which is at the north end of the Belmont project.
“When this project was first presented,” Solages said, “I was hopeful that we could strike a balance that benefits local residents, the developer and Nassau County as a whole.”