First ‘juror train’ arrives in Riverhead

09/16/2010 12:00 AM |

Suffolk County Commissioner of Jurors Michael O’Donohoe (right) and juror candidate Nicole Hirschman are greeted by Suffolk Legislator Ed Romaine as they get off the train in Riverhead Monday morning. The pair arrived in time for jury duty on the first day of the MTA’s systemwide schedule change.

A train pulled into the Riverhead station Monday morning carrying, for the first time ever, people headed to jury duty at nearby courthouses.

As part of a systemwide change in effect this week, the Long Island Rail Road has scheduled a train that arrives in Riverhead at 8:55 a.m. on weekdays, allowing people to walk to the nearby state Supreme Court or the county’s criminal court building in Riverside — and arrive on time for jury duty.

Monday’s train pulled into the station about three minutes late, something Suffolk County Commissioner of Jurors Michael O’Donohoe said would not be a problem as long as juror candidates showed their ticket stubs when reporting for jury duty.

Mr. O’Donohoe, who took the LIRR from the Ronkonkoma station that morning himself, stepped off the platform along with two juror candidates on their way to court.

“It was easy,” said potential juror Nicole Hirshman of Stony Brook. Ms. Hirschman boarded the train at the Ronkonkoma station instead of taking her car.

“I didn’t want to deal with parking,” she said.

Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches) waited at the platform to greet Mr. O’Donohoe and the mass transit-riding jurors.

He said he and Mr. O’Donohoe had lobbied for the modified train schedule for years.

“As we get more publicity for this, more and more people are going to take this line,” Mr. Romaine said.

Mr. O’Donohoe, who lives in Northport, said the $14 round-trip was so easy he plans to incorporate it into his daily commute to Riverhead. He added that he hopes state officials can lobby in the Assembly for a discounted fare for jurors.

Under the new schedule, the train will leave Deer Park at 7:45 a.m., make stops at Brentwood at 7:59, Central Islip at 8:03, Ronkonkoma at 8:10, Medford at 8:21 and Yaphank at 8:29, and arrive in Riverhead at 8:55. Trains will depart Riverhead at 1:21 p.m. and 3:58 p.m. Mr. O’Donohoe said jurors are usually dismissed well before the later train.

Earlier this year, the MTA proposed eliminating most all train service between Ronkonkoma and Greenport, a move that was intended to help close a $400 million budget shortfall. In March, after meeting resistance from residents and public officials, the MTA decided to keep the line running.

Weekend LIRR service east of Ronkonkoma during nonsummer months will continue to be suspended.

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