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East Side Access Service Plan Public Meeting Testimony

Good evening, I’m Bradley Brashears, Associate Director at the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC). We look forward to the many improvements this project will bring. Instead of Grand Central Madison, which riders may find confusing, PCAC members suggest simply calling the destination “Grand Central.” We appreciate that the service plan will continue to improve and your commitment to adjustments being made along the way. We conducted a deep-dive analysis of the service plan, but 90 seconds isn’t enough time to go into details. We urge you to hold branch-by-branch town hall meetings so riders can share their thoughts and engage in dialogue on the biggest reimagining of LIRR service in over 50 years.

The good news: some riders will see service increase and the simplified service plans will make schedules more understandable. Better intra-branch travel and reverse-commute trips brought about by ESA and Third Track will open the door to Long Island’s economy.

The bad news: service doesn’t really improve for trips not involving Manhattan. Penn Station itself may see less service. The elimination of timed connections at Jamaica may increase travel and transfer times. Most branches will only have hourly off-peak and weekend service, including in Southeast Queens. There are also large gaps in westbound reverse-commute diesel service.

Other issues include the Port Washington Branch, with longer trip times and splitting service between Penn and Grand Central with minimal increases. Brooklyn service is negatively impacted by Platform F, minimal through service, and long headways between trains – all of which will increase travel times and is particularly onerous for people with mobility challenges.

It’s important to get this right: it has cost over $11 billion and taken over three decades of planning, with the potential to transform regional mobility between LIRR, Metro-North, and NYC Transit. Congestion pricing and the need to reduce emissions and attract more drivers onto transit make this most urgent. Thank you!