First weekend with no LIRR service

Looking to board a train to Ronkonkoma or Greenport Village this weekend? Seek alternative plans.

This Saturday marks the first weekend until Memorial Day that the MTA will not be running LIRR trains to the North Fork.

The service cuts, along with other measures, come as part of the MTA’s efforts to close a looming $900 million budget gap. The reductions, in total, will save approximately $950,000 this year and $3.8 million annually starting in 2011, MTA officials said. The cuts have affected train and subway schedules across the 12 counties, including five in New York City, served by the agency.

“The LIRR will be monitoring the changes in the new timetable and will make schedule adjustments, as necessary, based on additional ridership and possible crowding on trains,” the MTA website now reads, though no changes are expected for the Greenport Line, which runs from Ronkonkoma to Greenport.

But the cuts in services to eastern Long Island, which many locals feel has been underserved by the MTA, were not has harsh as originally proposed.

In late January, the agency announced it was planning to halt nearly all train service to the North Fork along the Greenport Line, and eliminate one westbound train on its Montauk line serving the South Fork. It had only planned to run trains to the North Fork on summer weekends.

That news — delivered just eight months after state lawmakers approved a payroll tax in 2009 — was immediately decried by locally elected leaders. The tax, which took effect on Sept. 1, 2009, charges 34 cents on every $100 in employee wages for all businesses, governments and nonprofit groups operating in counties served by the MTA.

Facing public outcry that seemed to intensify by the day, the MTA in March scrapped its drastic plans for the Greenport Line, and approved cuts that would apply just for weekends between Memorial and Columbus days.

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This post was originally published Oct. 15, 2010