Malverne Village has polled its residents and the results are in: The 7:23 a.m. train is the winner.
Village officials and local legislators say they have been working for two years to get the Long Island Rail Road to restore the old weekday morning rush hour schedule -- including the 7:23 -- for the West Hempstead branch. That followed several complaints from constituents about the LIRR's budget-related systemwide reductions in September 2010. Rush hour schedules were changed and weekend service to some stations eliminated.
Malverne Mayor Patricia Norris-McDonald said 100 people responded within a week to a recent village-led survey about the morning schedule. The survey was part of an effort by the mayor, Assemb. Brian Curran (R-Lynbrook) and State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) to get the old schedule back.
"This is an important quality of life issue for residents in Senator Skelos' district," his spokesman Mark Hansen said. "He hopes for the restoration of the old schedule soon."
Nearly 90 percent of the survey respondents said they prefer the original 2009 train schedule for Malverne: 7 a.m., 7:23 a.m., 7:44 a.m. and 8:35 a.m. The rest favored the current schedule: 7 a.m., 7:44 a.m., 8:14 a.m. and 9:01 a.m.
"The old schedule was more convenient for the riders and it put them at work before 9 a.m. to Brooklyn or Manhattan," said village trustee Michael Bailey, adding residents now drive to other stations instead of walking or getting dropped off at their local station.
"I will be calling the Long Island Rail Road to tell them our village wants the earlier morning service back," Norris-McDonald said at last week's village board meeting.
About 51 percent of respondents said they would use the 7:23 a.m. train more frequently than times currently offered. Some 82 percent of the respondents were from Malverne, with the remainder from West Hempstead, Lynbrook, Franklin Square and Valley Stream.
"We're always looking to get the MTA to revert back to the old schedule on the line," said Rosalie Norton, president of the West Hempstead Community Support Association. "Why would you want to drive to another station when you can walk to your local station? Especially with $4 a gallon for gas."
LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena said officials would be willing to "go back to the 2009 schedule if that is what the village wants." He added the earliest that could happen would be May 2013.
Several respondents also indicated they wanted more evening trains and a resumption of weekend service. LIRR customers at the branch's five stations currently must travel to or from nearby stations on the Long Beach and Hempstead lines.
Norris-McDonald said she hopes the luxury apartment complex called West 130, next to the West Hempstead station, will cause LIRR officials to reconsider weekend service cuts, if there is a growth of ridership. The apartment building, located at the former site of the notorious Courtesy Hotel, is expected to open in November.
"The weekend service would certainly benefit everyone," Norton said.