MANHATTAN (PIX11) — Long Islanders will finally have easy access to Manhattan’s eastside.
Gov. Kathy Hochul and the MTA announced Tuesday the new terminal at Grand Central for LIRR trains will be complete by the end of the year. State leaders are promising the major project, decades in the making, will be a game changer for the 2.8 million residents of Long Island. They also said regular riders who use Penn Station and the Metro North will see the benefit.
“The future is 2022, this will be accomplished completed in its entirety… by the end of this year,” Hochul said. “That is our commitment.”
Certain Long Island Rail Road trains will now stop along one of tracks at the new Grand Central linked terminal. Still under construction, although trains are testing on the tracks, the terminal will one day feature restaurants and retail. Tuesday it picked up a new name: Grand Central Madison, named so because the easiest entrances and exits will be along Madison Avenue.
MTA officials estimate that once complete, around 160 thousand commuters will use the terminal each day to either go to work or connect to the Metro-North. They also promise that with fewer LIRR riders coming through Penn Station, there will be room for rapid improvement of that dated terminal.
“There is a close relationship between the opening of this new facility and service and the improvement of Penn,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber.
He and the governor were pressed about if after all this time and $11.1 billion spent, the project would be worth it— especially with work-from-home part of the new normal.
“If you provide people with better connectivity, and it’s more convenient, the probability that they will increase their travel is much higher and we are confident in that,” Lieber said.
“If you build it they will come,” Hochul added.
When Grand Central Madison opens up to LIRR customers, those riders will be relying on a brand new and expanded schedule. The MTA said it will increase the amount of trains by around 40% during rush hour.
Preliminary schedules will be published within the next few days, and riders will have a chance for feedback before they are finalized. Discount programs are also being piloted to draw riders back to the rails.