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Rave reviews for new LIRR schedule that took effect this week

The Long Island Rail Road is increasing the number of trains to and from Greenport on weekends this summer. New LIRR timetables took effect Monday, May 21, and local transportation watchdogs are giving the agency good grades.

“The LIRR is doubling weekend service to the North Fork for the summer season. For the first time, weekend service is operating with four round trips between Ronkonkoma and Greenport, as opposed to the two round trips per day that existed until this May, and in previous summers,” the agency said in release.

“I think this is very important given that there’s been increasing attention on the traffic issue on the North Fork,” said Jim Ellwood of Riverhead, president of Five Town Rural Transit, a nonprofit group that’s been trying to get improved public transportation on the East End for many years.

The new summer schedule also includes a train that leaves Penn Station at 3:55 p.m. and arrives in Greenport at 6:45 p.m. on Fridays only, as well as on Tuesday, July 3.

Mr. Ellwood said Memorial Day is usually when traffic gets bad on the North Fork.

In recent years, however, traffic on the North Fork has increased not only during the summer but also during the fall “pumpkin picking” season, when roads in Riverhead and Southold towns are often jammed with visitors.

And recent news reports have suggested that Greenport Village is becoming a “hipster haven,” with more people in their 20s and 30s moving there and opening businesses.

Local officials have been urging the LIRR to increase service on the North Fork for many years. Last November, following a number of meetings with state and local officials, the agency responded by adding a westbound train that left Greenport at 9:34 a.m. weekdays and arrived in Penn Station at 12:33 p.m.

That train remains on the summer schedule, with the times changed to 9:39 a.m. to 12:37 p.m.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Neboysha Brashich, chairman of Southold Town’s Transportation Commission.

“The response from the LIRR has really been great, and I’m pleased to see that they are listening to our concerns and that they really paid attention and accommodated us to the fullest extent possible,” he said. “What’s so nice about it is that we have an improved service in place.”

“The MTA has helped as they have changed the schedule and added more trains,” said Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio. “ The more we promote trains and public transportation during our tourism seasons, when ridership increases, the more trains and buses we will get.”

Photo caption: A Long Island Rail Road train in Greenport. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

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