Visitors to Long Island's North Fork can leave their cars at home even late into the fall season, LIRR officials said Monday.

At a Ronkonkoma news conference Monday, Long Island Rail Road president Helena Williams gave new details about a plan to expand service to Greenport for an extra 10 weekends.

"Last year we ended service right after Columbus Day and people said to us, 'Hey that's not enough service. We want to get out there. We want to enjoy the fall. We want to enjoy the wineries. We want to enjoy the opportunity to explore,' " said Williams, adding that the LIRR remains "the easiest and most convenient way" to visit the North Fork.

As part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's cost-cutting service reductions of 2010, the LIRR eliminated train service to Greenport except for weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

This year, trains will run to Greenport through Thanksgiving weekend -- an extra seven weekends.

And next spring, service to Greenport will resume three weeks early, on May 3.

The service extension is part of an $18 million Metropolitan Transportation Authority plan to restore and expand service across all its agencies. The LIRR's $2.6 million share of that includes adding half-hourly weekend service on the Ronkonkoma and Port Washington lines.

Williams said she expects the expanded Greenport service will largely pay for itself by attracting new riders.

Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who attended the news conference, said he was pleased to see the LIRR acknowledge the East End's economic strength.

"When I first took office [37 years ago] the East End shut down on Labor Day weekend," LaValle said. "But today, the East End is vibrant almost the whole year."

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