Stony Brook University students are feeling the effects of the recent changes to the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) schedule due to the new line connecting the LIRR to Grand Central Station.
In March, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced the service changes to help make commuters’ travel as convenient as possible. According to the governor’s office, as of March 6, there are a total of 32 trains that have had new cars added to meet commuter demand.
Riders have faced many issues using the LIRR, such as crowded platforms, fewer trains to suit their needs and getting used to the new schedules.
Reuben Kline, professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Center for Behavioral Political Economy at Stony Brook, spoke about the habits and decision-making that can affect how riders are experiencing this updated situation.
“Riders’ long-time schedules were disrupted,” Kline said. “Since the schedules changed, but commuters’ destinations have remained the same, the riders have largely had to change their commuting routines. Mostly this means that they must leave earlier to make sure they can make their connections.”
Despite the disruptions and changes, students at Stony Brook share their mixed opinions on the new line. Sophomore psychology major Isabella Berger used the new connection over the break to travel from Stony Brook to her hometown in Westchester.
“Before the new service was created, my ride was typically around three-and-a-half hours, but the new connection cut off 20 minutes from my usual commute, which was greatly appreciated,” Berger said. “Not only does the new service allow for a shorter commute, but since I no longer need to take the subway, I don’t have to exert as much mental energy worrying about connections.”
However, others from New York City share their alternative perspectives on the new line.
“The new service actually makes travel more difficult because I usually have to transfer to Amtrak at Penn Station,” Pei-Hsun Hsieh, a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Stony Brook University, said. “It used to be one transfer, but most trains now have two transfers. However, this does not change my decision since there is no viable alternative.”
Others have embraced the convenience and cheaper cost.
“I also feel safer, since there’s less time I spend outside of a train car,” Berger said. “My commute is cheaper now as well. I’m doing summer research and commuting weekly, so the reduced cost will make a sizable difference in my summer expenditure.”
Some MTA staff have been assigned to LIRR stations when possible, resulting in 10 more workers in the Grand Central Madison terminal. But Kline suggested there could be problems in train stations in the foreseeable future.
“Because this has disrupted people’s sometimes decades-old commuting routines, commuters are very upset,” Kline said. “Some of this consternation will dissipate as people grow more accustomed to the new status quo.”