MTA launches online trip planner for customers planning new Grand Central Madison commutes

June 20, 2022
Draft schedules released in early June feature increased morning and evening peak service, as well as more options for reverse commuters.

An online trip planner was introduced by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to allow Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) customers to plan trips to and from Grand Central Madison, Penn Station, Atlantic Terminal or any other stations once Grand Central Madison opens later this year.  

To use the trip planner, a customer can input station of origin, destination, time of travel, day of week and the planner will suggest itineraries and transfer opportunities. 

“The online trip planner will help LIRR customers see the many new travel opportunities that the opening of Grand Central Madison will bring to the Long Island Rail Road,” said Catherine Rinaldi, interim president of LIRR and president of Metro-North Railroad. "Once the public has an opportunity to plan their new commute, they will see how many new travelling opportunities the new, refreshed schedules provide to our beautiful new Grand Central Madison Terminal, revitalized Penn Station and our Brooklyn hub at Atlantic Avenue.” 

The creation of the interactive tool complements draft timetables for every LIRR branch that were released in early June showing proposed systemwide service following the opening of the LIRR’s terminal at Grand Central Madison this year. The LIRR will hold a series of virtual public information sessions starting next week to gather public input on the timetables.  

“It’s important to show not only Long Islanders but everyone in the region that the opening of Grand Central Madison creates numerous opportunities to travel by commuter rail,” said MTA Chief Customer Officer Sarah Meyer. “We strongly encourage customers to use the trip planner to create their new commute and give us feedback at the public information sessions that start next week.” 

Systemwide service increases mean more trains throughout the day 

The timetables propose to increase the overall number of LIRR trains by 40 percent. The number of morning rush hour trains would increase slightly more than 40 percent and the number of afternoon/evening rush hour trains would increase by nearly 65 percent. Thanks to the new terminal and the LIRR Main Line Expansion Project (Third Track), reverse peak service would improve to Ronkonkoma, Huntington and all intermediate stops, as well as from Brooklyn, where service to Jamaica is increasing. 

The timetables will improve the spacing of trains on many branches, reducing large gaps in service. During the off-peak hours of middays, evenings and weekends, Huntington and Ronkonkoma will both have service to Manhattan every 30 minutes, with weekend Ronkonkoma Branch service doubling with the completion of the Double Track Project, that introduced 13 miles of a brand-new second track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, and the Main Line Expansion Project. 

On the West Hempstead Branch, trains will run every hour during off-peak periods, twice as frequently as they do today, and the need to change trains at Valley Stream is eliminated. Stations in Queens will see service increases throughout the day, in both peak and off-peak periods. 

Change at Jamaica evolves 

To reduce delays that can occur currently at Jamaica Station while trains wait for a connecting train, and to allow the LIRR to move significantly more trains through the station, trains will no longer have scheduled connections at Jamaica. 

Manhattan-bound customers at rush hour on most branches, and all day on the busiest branches, will find options to take them to the terminal of their choosing without the need to change trains. For those who do need to transfer, all trains will now make station stops at Jamaica to reduce wait times. Once the schedules are finalized in the fall, the TrainTime app will be updated to provide transfer recommendations. 

Service to Brooklyn to increase by 28 percent 

In Brooklyn, trains will run approximately every 12 minutes in both directions during peak hours and every 20 minutes during off-peak hours for an overall 28 percent increase in daily trains. Every train will make stops at Nostrand Avenue and East New York. Most Brooklyn trains will originate and terminate at Jamaica using the new Platform F, but the LIRR will retain some through service with peak and off-peak trains on the West Hempstead Branch and peak trains on the Babylon and Hempstead Branches.  

Most customers on the Far Rockaway and Hempstead Branches, whose trains currently primarily serve Brooklyn, will now have direct service to Manhattan all day. 

LIRR to hold information sessions on new timetables 

The LIRR will hold four virtual customer information sessions about the proposed new timetables during June and July.  

Following these information sessions, a virtual public meeting — where the public will have the chance to offer comments on the timetables — will be held July 13.