By Cody Hmelar
Long Islanders can expect their commutes into Manhattan to be 40 minutes shorter after the opening of Grand Central Madison, the Long Island Rail Road’s new, sleek and modern, $11 billion terminal on the west side of the historic Grand Central Terminal. It opened Jan. 25 after 26 years of planning and construction.
The Advocate recently toured the terminal for a photo essay.
In early February, there was only shuttle service between Jamaica Station and the new terminal. Full LIRR service into Grand Central Madison was expected to start Feb. 27, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said in January.
As Grand Central Madison trains have been operating with limited stops, LIRR customers said they are eagerly awaiting full service.
Francois Assad commutes daily from Mineola to 46th Street and Park Avenue. “This new terminal is a game changer. It saves me time, it saves me effort,” Assad said.
According to a MTA news release, Grand Central Madison will double LIRR capacity into Manhattan. An additional 274 trains will be in service on weekdays.
The opening of Grand Central Madison shows a finish line in the future after major infrastructure upgrades like the third track on the LIRR Main Line. The terminals additionally expand access between Long Island, Westchester, Connecticut and the Hudson River Valley.
Critics, though, are concerned about the lack of information regarding Grand Central Madison’s accessibility.
The new terminal features one of New York’s longest escalators. The escalators do have vertical landmarks that help people with vestibular disabilities, or balance disorders.
But one MTA staff member described having to look downward while riding the escalator to minimize vertigo, the sensation that the room is spinning.
Despite the criticism, many commuters said they are pleased with the new terminal. “We’ve been hearing this for decades. It’s nice to finally see it happen” Assad said.