The Long Island Rail Road has made schedule changes in response to requests from local officials and transportation advocates over the past year.
One of those changes, which went into effect Monday, is the addition of a weekday train leaving Greenport at 9:43 a.m. and arriving at Penn Station in Manhattan at 12:33 p.m.
“That’s one of the things we were very happy with,” said Jim Ellwood of Riverhead, a member of the East End Transportation Council and Five Town Rural Transit, two groups that aim to improve public transportation on the East End.
“We got a train to leave the North Fork in the middle of the morning so people could go to afternoon events in the city,” he said. “They won’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and take a commuter train in; they can go in and arrive by lunchtime, do things in the afternoon and still come back the same day.”
Officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the LIRR met with local officials and transportation advocates throughout 2016 and 2017 to develop the new schedule, and had also met with the Riverhead Town Board, the Southold Town Board and the Greenport Village Board, as well as with business groups, to discuss the changes.
“We consider it historic because it’s the first time there’s been a collaboration between the railroad and the people who live here,” Mr. Ellwood said. “In the past, the schedules were done and they would pretty much do what they wanted to do.”
MTA officials also plan to increase the level of weekend summer service to the North Fork by May 2018. This would increase the number of round-trip trains leaving from and returning to Greenport from two to four, according to Steve Ellinghaus, LIRR’s fleet, shops and strategy manager.
The increase in rail service on the North Fork is a big victory, considering that from 2010 to 2016, the LIRR offered no weekend service on the North Fork at all in the winter, Mr. Ellwood said.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he’s grateful for any changes in the train schedule.
“It’s no secret that Southold has a traffic crisis,” he said. “Public transportation, such as rail service, has to be a critical component to implementing solutions.”
Both Mr. Russell and Mr. Ellwood said the area’s state representatives, Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and assemblymen Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) and Tony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) deserve credit for helping to bring about the changes.
“The railroad has listened to residents and has been responsive in committing to service improvements, which will go a long way in meeting the changing transportation needs of eastern Long Island,” Mr. LaValle said in a statement.
The new schedule will remain in effect until at least Feb. 25.
For weekday westbound trains leaving Greenport, the changes went from 5:30 a.m., 12:58 p.m., 8:38 p.m. and 9:39 p.m under the old schedule to 5:30 a.m., 9:43 a.m., 2:43 p.m. and 9:39 p.m. as of Monday.
Weekday eastbound trains that currently arrive in Greenport at 12:08 a.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8:17 p.m. will now arrive at 8:54 a.m., 2:06 p.m. and 8:17 p.m. under the new schedule.
The weekend schedule was not changed.