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MTA Joint Committee Meeting- “New LIRR Timetable Should Reflect Public Input to Maximize Grand Central Madison Benefits”

Good morning! I’m Kara Gurl, Research and Communications Associate at the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, PCAC.

Nearly a month since its opening, Grand Central Madison symbolizes a more unified transit system with the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North, and subway under one roof. Next week, even more riders will stream through the complex when the full LIRR schedule is implemented.

The MTA must ensure that all riders, whether they’re regular commuters or first-time visitors, can navigate and transfer easily. With such a large station, it can be confusing to find your way around without prior knowledge of the best entrances, exits, and shortcuts. We’re glad that the Wayfinding and Signage Task Force is looking for opportunities to improve navigation, and we recommend adding more, larger, and clearer signage throughout the new complex and the existing terminal. It’s important that no hallway, track, or entrance is left unturned as you look for new places to add signs. As with service changes and other significant updates, over-communicating with the public will help ensure that people of all familiarity levels can understand.

That’s why we’re disappointed to see that the new service plans have not incorporated feedback from thousands of public comments. The new schedules have only minor changes from the June draft schedules, despite assurances to riders that they could be modified based on feedback and were not final. Unfortunately, too little has changed. Last year, we called for public input sessions similar to those held for the Bus Network Redesigns: smaller, more frequent workshops with information divided by geography or line to allow the railroad to listen to riders and adjust schedules. As the MTA works to recover ridership, it’s important that riders feel heard going into this major service change. While many will enjoy faster commutes to the East Side, the loss of one-seat rides to and from Brooklyn, less frequent service to Queens stations, a lack of timed connections, and peak service that requires commuters on some lines to leave work early or miss the last train home will negatively affect riders and the railroad. Many riders raised these issues in June, without updates.

Grand Central Madison is a major accomplishment, but service must be adjusted with public input to ensure that riders can truly benefit from it. Thank you.