‘Worse Than I've Ever Seen It:' LIRR Tweaks Schedules After Chaotic Grand Central Opening

Engineers are monitoring real-time crowd conditions and have made a few changes, with more likely to come

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Service changes are coming to Long Island Rail Road after a rocky rollout involving Grand Central Madison that has led to several days of chaotic commutes.

At Jamaica Station Thursday night, passengers described crowded platforms and trains, as well as track confusion as they tried to transfer.

"They actually changed my track three times, which results in people racing up and down escalators and stairs and overcrowding on platforms," said commuter John O'Hara, who took video of people scrambling to get to new tracks.

Needless to say, it was not the most pleasant way to end a long day at work.

"It’s gotten worse than I’ve ever seen it in my 30 years of commuting," Ohara said.

Passengers described crowded platforms and trains, as well as track confusion as they try to transfer, as the LIRR's growing pains with the opening of Grand Central Madison continued. NBC New York Ida Siegal reports.

The new crowds at the transfer hub and elsewhere along LIRR lines are some of the growing pains connected to the opening of the $11 billion Grand Central Madison and the historic expansion of the rail lines trains to Grand Central Terminal.

"I’m not gonna tell you the first week hasn’t been bumpy. The first week has been bumpy, no question about that," said Interim LIRR President Cathy Rinaldi. "What we are trying to do is react to what we are seeing."

She said the overcrowding comes from new schedules that shortened trains bound for Penn Station and Brooklyn. Rinaldi acknowledged her team reduced the number of cars on certain trains based on data analysis. Transit officials thought many of those people would want to ride to Grand Central instead.

"I don’t think it’s a miscalculation — it was based on data. Recent data has even more going to Grand Central Madison," Rinaldi said.

Romney Smith reports on commuter frustrations about the new Grand Central Madison station.

Engineers are monitoring real-time crowd conditions and have made the following changes:

  • The 7:07 a.m. shuttle from Jamaica to Brooklyn expanded from eight cars to 10 cars
  • The 7:28 a.m. from Ronkonkoma to Penn Station also grew from eight to 10 cars
  • The Port Washington branch will be getting longer trains next week
  • Increasing the Atlantic Terminal Shuttle from every 12 mins to every 10 minutes

While some have been enjoying the new schedule, saying it has cut out significant commuting time for them, others have had their commutes made increasingly difficult by the changes.

Gerry Bringmann of the LIRR Riders Council said even though each added car can accommodate 100 additional riders, no one should expect an overnight turnaround — not after a schedule overhaul that eliminated timed transfers at Jamaica.

"This is gonna have to play out over a month or so. This is only day four," said Bringmann.

Still, Rinaldi said she was "very confident" about service improving in week two.

"We will have more frequency on the shuttle, we will have longer trains — the busiest trains will be longer," she said.

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