A new shuttle service between midtown Manhattan and Jamaica is debuting this month


Despite repeated announcements regarding the timeliness of the project, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials admitted that the new Grand Central Madison terminal for the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) will actually not open for full passenger service this year.

That being said, the agency will start operating a new LIRR shuttle between the much-anticipated 750,000-square-foot terminal and Jamaica, Queens within the next few weeks, according to MTA’s commuter railroads president Cathy Rinaldi. Full service is expected to kick off at Grand Central Madison within three weeks from the launch of the shuttle operation.

Dubbed the Grand Central Direct, the shuttle will run direct from Grand Central Madison to Jamaica, with peak hour trains stopping at Woodside so that folks looking to ride on the popular Port Washington branch can transfer and actually visit the new east side station.

“We want to give our customers the opportunity to orient themselves in the terminal with the new service,” Rinaldi said in an official statement earlier this week. “This is transformational in terms of the kind of service delivery that our customers are gonna be seeing. So you can’t do that on the fly, people want to be able to plan their travel, they want to understand what this means for them.”

The massive project has been many years in the making and it will cost about $11 billion to come to completion. Although most of the station seems to be ready for use, airflow and fire safety tests are still being conducted and are currently holding up the opening process. 

“That testing has to take place and has to be completed before we’re able to open it,” explained Rinaldi. “We want to open as soon as we can safely do so. Which is why we absolutely have to have the testing completed and successfully completed.”

Once operational, the terminal—the largest expansion of the LIRR service since the original Penn Station and the East River Tunnel debuted 112 years ago—will afford LIRR passengers direct access to the Eat Side of Manhattan. Considering that, according to an official press release, 50% of riders currently travel to that area of town after arriving at Penn Station, congestion at the latter stop will obviously be significantly diluted as well.  

Officials are obviously betting big on the project: not only does the terminal represent a remarkable feat of engineering and planning, but it will also function as a cultural hotspot of sorts. In fact, artists as popular as Yayoi Kusama have been commissioned to create floor-to-ceiling mosaics to decorate the new destination. Here’s to hoping you’ll soon be able to gaze at them all in real life.



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