RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Tom Spurge in August on the platform at the Ronkonkoma train station, where he makes the first of two transfers when he commutes from Greenport to Penn Station for his job in Manhattan.
The Long Island Rail Road extended its weekend “summer service” on the North Fork further into the fall.
The LIRR agreed over the summer to extend service into November and has now posted some signs at train stations indicating weekend service will run through Dec. 1. Printed schedules and the PDF format on MTA.info, however, still lists service ending Oct. 13.
Weekend service between Greenport and Ronkonkoma will now be extended to Dec. 1 and include Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, according to the LIRR.
After Dec. 1, there will be no weekend train service between Greenport and Ronkonkoma until spring. However, the service may resume earlier than in years past, according to signs at the train stations.
SEE ALSO: From the North Fork to NYC, commuters tell their stories
Weekend service on the Greenport line previously ran from Memorial Day weekend to Columbus Day weekend as a result of budget cuts implemented in 2010.
The LIRR said the restoration of service is a response to customer demand.
“The Long Island Rail Road restored a number of service cuts, implementing the changes gradually as budgeting allowed over the last few month,” said MTA spokesman Sal Arena. “All along the plan was for the LIRR to extend the weekend service to Greenport as far into November as possible.”
He said the weekend service will resume in time for the Memorial Day weekend.
The weekend and holiday schedule on the North Fork line currently includes two westbound trains per day and two Greenport-bound trains per day.
Jim Ellwood of Riverhead, an advocate for better East End transportation, said the announcement over the summer didn’t give a specific date for when the weekend service was being extended.
“Myself and some other transportation advocates met with them to express our concerns about the loss of the weekend service and we asked if they would consider extending it to the Thanksgiving Day weekend, and they agreed,” Mr. Ellwood said. “The North Fork is very much a fall economy.”
Mr. Ellwood said it’s “frustrating” that the printed schedules don’t reflect the extended weekend schedules, because some people might not know that the service is still available on weekends.
“We fought to get that service back and we don’t want to have a situation where people don’t use it because they don’t know it’s running,” Mr. Ellwood said.
The MTA website displays the correct schedules if searching under a specific starting and arriving location, just not on the PDF schedule, Mr. Ellwood said.
M. Arena said in August: “The MTA was able to identify additional money, revenue from dedicated state taxes as well as internal cost-savings, that could be used to enhance train service and other customer amenities.”
The extension of weekend service on the North Fork is funded through this money, he said.
The MTA “made this decision based on customer demand and specifically to extend service to the fall harvest period, an important tourist season for the region,” Mr. Arena said.