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LIRR boosts Riverhead service for jurors

Suffolk residents will soon have one less excuse to get out of jury duty, courtesy of the Long Island Rail Road.

LIRR president Helena Williams announced Monday that starting in September the railroad will adjust its service to and from Riverhead to best accommodate prospective jurors traveling to and from Riverhead's various court buildings.

The move is a response to the concerns raised by Suffolk residents and elected officials at a public hearing in March concerning the LIRR's planned service on its Greenport line. Some speakers noted that the sole weekday morning train to Riverhead arrives at 9:47 a.m. - too late for prospective jurors summoned to arrive by 9 a.m.

Starting on Sept. 13, the eastbound morning train will arrive at Riverhead at 8:55 a.m. The station, at Osborne Avenue and Railroad Street, is across the street from the jury room of the State Supreme Court building and about three-quarters of a mile from Suffolk County Court.

The LIRR is also adjusting the time of its westbound afternoon trains out of Riverhead to be more juror-friendly, officials said. Trains will leave at 1:21 p.m. - shortly after the usual courthouse lunch break - and 3:58 p.m. - in time for most people dismissed from service to catch, officials said.

"We hope that this promotion will add a new opportunity for customers to complete their civic duty while using mass transit," LIRR president Helena Williams said.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter called the new schedule "fantastic" and a potential boon to Riverhead's economy.

Suffolk Commissioner of Jurors Michael O'Donahoe said he has lobbied the LIRR for years to improve service to the Riverhead courts. He said the schedule will alleviate parking problems near the courts.

To help get the word out, the LIRR is coordinating with the office of the Suffolk Commissioner of Jurors to include the new schedule in juror summons mailings.

Meanwhile, the LIRR also announced Monday that it is increasing parking fees at its two Long Island parking facilities starting in December. At Mineola, daily parking rates will go up from $5 for 20 hours to $6. And at Ronkonkoma, rates are increasing from $4 to $5 a day at short-term parking spots, and from $43.25 to $54 for monthly spots. Ronkonkoma also provides free parking in open lots.

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