Sensing urgency in staking a claim for Long Island Rail Road commuters after losing long-time LIRR commuter advocates Helena Williams and former state Senator Charles Fuschillo, Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg held a press conference this morning, May 23, at the Bellmore railroad station imploring The Metropolitan Transportation Authority to keep its promise of providing equal slots for Long Island commuters once access is provided into Grand Central Station.
Standing next to Legislator Dave Denenberg at his impromptu media conference at the Bellmore LIRR train station are, from left, Bellmore resident June Gold, Baldwin resident Jeff Friedman, Claudia Borecky of the North and Central Merrick Civic Association, Legislator Denenberg, Merokian Audry Cuiffo and Bellmore resident Pat Hoey.
Called the East Side Access, the project will enable Long Island Rail Road trains access into Grand Central Station, on the east side of Manhattan. Two tunnels have been bored under the East River and into the Grand Central location, but cost overruns have plagued construction and no fixed date has been announced on when the project may be completed.
In addition to calling for fair representation for Long Island Rail Road commuters into Grand Central station with equal slots, he called on the federal Department of Transportation for an opinion on resiliency funding, which he said was originally earmarked for Long Island locations and may now go toward the East Side access and other environs.
“I was a commuter for 18 years, too,” he told those who attended the press conference. Since becoming a legislator, he claims to have fought, through his ad-hoc Long Island commuter council, against fare increases, for better service and for East Side access.
Every three months Denenberg holds a community meeting on Long Island Rail Road issues, inviting LIRR officials to hear the latest critiques and issues from commuters on the railroad’s operations.
“I agree with Dave,” remarked Merrick resident Audrey Ciuffo. She said Denenberg has been steadfast in his protection of Long Island commuters and their interests. “We always need a more convenient commute.”
Patrick Hoey of Bellmore said Penn Station is crowded enough as is, and to have commuters coming into Grand Central, where they may be closer to their work, could decrease the crowds in Penn Station.
June Gold, on her way to catch a train, said “Denenherg’s got good points. We need good and equal access into Grand Central” for the project to be worth it for Long Island commuters.
Jeff Friedman of Baldwin said at the conclusion of the media conference that he often drives into the city to work because he works on the East Side, and it’s easier to drive. “With East Side access I could get to work in 45 minutes, instead of one-and-a-half hours.”