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Nassau County rallies against proposed Long Island Rail Road schedule changes

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Nassau County
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Nassau County Legislator Pilip calls on the MTA to abandon plan to eliminate peak express trains on the North Shore

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman joined the Town of North Hempstead to demand that the Long Island Rail Road keep its express train service on the Port Washington branch.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority wants to get rid of four peak hour trains headed into the new LIRR terminal being built at Grand Central as part of the East Side Access project.

Nassau County’s first station on the branch in Great Neck has six trains between 7:30 and 8:30 am. Under the new schedule, there will only be two trains.

Blakeman said services should continue and be upgraded.

“They had 15 years to figure this out and they couldn't do it,” Blakeman said. “And in 15 years, what do we get? Reduced service and 50-year-old railroad cars that they're now inserting into the system. It's ridiculous, and we're not going to take it.”

Reducing the number of express trains is expected to increase commute times for riders traveling into New York City, while also adding to their time spent waiting for trains.

North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jen DeSena said the MTA needs to consider every option available to provide expanded rail service for their residents.

“These changes are unacceptable,” DeSana said. “The service cuts will impact thousands of riders across the town and would potentially lead to decreased home values, increased congestion, and an overall negative impact on our quality of life.”

Since these changes were announced, numerous residents have come to DeSana to give her their feedback on the proposed changes and spoke about how it will negatively influence their lives including time with loved ones being cut short and home values will decrease.

Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip, R-Great Neck, agreed that if the MTA approves of getting rid of trains, families will be the ones that suffer.

“This is a community whose backbone is train service, it’s not a luxury,” Pilip said. “It's about families and it's about our economy. When you cut service, you hurt families, you are impacting people's lives. The MTA is absolutely wrong with this new schedule. They need to listen to the people, the people they're supposed to help.”

Residents have the chance to come together and make their voices heard. The MTA is holding public comment periods on Aug. 4 and Aug. 11.

The peak hour service has been running on the Port Washington line for over 100 years. The East Side Access project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Natalie Discenza is a Sacred Heart News Fellow at WSHU. She is a native of Syracuse, New York.