The area is empty at the Belmont Park LIRR station...

The area is empty at the Belmont Park LIRR station in Elmont on Sept. 18, 2020. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

It's not often that the nation's oldest commuter railroad adds a new station. In fact, it has been 45 years since it last did so.

And so the Long Island Rail Road's new full-time "Elmont Station" serving a nearly 19,000-seat UBS Arena at Belmont Park understandably has raised questions.

Here are answers to some of the most important questions about the station, compiled from the LIRR, Empire State Development, and an environmental study conducted by the project's developer.

Where is the new station located?

The station is being built on the LIRR’s Main Line, between Bellerose and Queens Village stations, and just east of the Cross Island Parkway. It will be accessible on the south side from Belmont Park's north parking lot, and from the north from Superior Road in Bellerose Terrace. The station, which actually will be about three-quarters of a mile from the arena, will be built on LIRR property.

When will the station open?

The LIRR has completed construction of the new station’s eastbound platform, and will run eastbound Hempstead branch trains there starting on Saturday, Nov. 20—the day of the Islanders’ home opener at the new arena. The service will be available immediately before and after all arena events.

A new Long Island Rail Road station will be built at...

A new Long Island Rail Road station will be built at Belmont Park as part of a $1.3 billion project to bring the New York Islanders back to Nassau County.  Credit: Newsday/John Keating

How do I get home after an event?

Until the westbound platform is completed some time in 2022, customers heading home in that direction after an event can either take a train from the old Belmont Park Station to Jamaica, or ride a free shuttle bus to Queens Village Station and transfer to a westbound train there.

How will travelers get from the new LIRR station to the arena and back?

The project’s private developer will run electric shuttle buses that will transport riders between the station and the arena on a loop route.

It started on Dec. 20, 2017, when the Islanders' proposal to build a new arena at Belmont Park in Elmont was approved. Now the doors open to the Islanders' new home, UBS Arena. Credit: Newsday

What will it cost to take the train to and from the new station?

In July, the MTA board officially designated the new Elmont Station as part of the LIRR's Zone 4—the westernmost zone in Nassau County. That means a one-way, off-peak ticket to or from Penn Station will cost $9.25. A peak, one-way ticket to or from Penn would cost $12.50, but the LIRR is not charging peak prices during the pandemic and has said it will not for the rest of 2021. A monthly commuter pass will be priced at $270.

What branches will have access to the station?

At the outset, the station will be served only by Hempstead branch trains on arena event days. The LIRR eventually could run trains there on other Main Line branches, including Huntington/Port Jefferson and Oyster Bay. The LIRR has said that decision would be made based on available capacity. LIRR customers from other branches could transfer at Jamaica for connecting service to Elmont.

How often will trains stop at the station?

Initially, the station will only be serviced immediately before and after arena events, but the plan is to eventually introduce full-time service to and from Elmont. Service levels are expected to be similar to neighboring station Bellerose. But the railroad expects to expand service to Elmont with the completion of several capacity-expansion projects, including the third track between Floral Park and Hicksville and the East Side Access link to Grand Central Terminal — both scheduled for completion in 2022. After then, the railroad will be able to have trains from other Main Line branches stop at Elmont.

How long will it take to get there?

The LIRR expects the Elmont trip to take about 34 minutes from Penn Station, about 11 minutes from Jamaica, about 25 minutes from Hicksville and about 50 minutes from Ronkonkoma.

What will the station look like?

According to the LIRR and to artists’ renderings, the station will feature a glass-enclosed overpass with elevators connecting the north and south side platforms, glass platform canopies, brick shelter sheds, LED lighting, ticket vending machines, electronic signage, benches, charging ports, an art installation and bicycle racks. The platforms are expected to be long enough to accommodate 10 to 12 train cars, although, when the station opens, it initially will have just one platform for eastbound trains that will accommodate eight cars.

What will the parking situation be?

The parking lot north of the Belmont racetrack, which has 2,860 spaces, will be next to the station and be shared by weekday LIRR commuters and arena patrons, with 150 devoted strictly for LIRR customers. Officials anticipate parking permits would be sold to Hempstead Town residents. It is not clear what the fee would be.

Will the station result in additional crowding on existing LIRR trains?

With project officials estimating that as many as 30% of arena eventgoers will take the train, the station will mean more riders on trains during event days. But the railroad projects it will have enough capacity on its Hempstead branch to handle additional riders. Project officials don’t expect the station to result in new daily LIRR commuters traveling to and from jobs in New York City, although some existing commuters could choose to travel to and from Elmont instead of other neighboring stations because they may find it easier to get a parking space or to get there from the Cross Island Parkway.

Will an additional stop make the trip longer for non-Elmont riders?

LIRR officials have said making an additional stop could add two to three minutes to trips, but that could be longer if there are large crowds waiting to board a train after an event.

What is the cost of the station, and who is paying for it?

The station is estimated to cost $105 million. Private developer New York Arena Partners — a partnership of the owners of the Islanders, New York Mets and the arena development company, Oak View Group —have pledged to kick in $97 million, and the state would fund the rest.

What are some potential benefits of the station?

Project supporters say the station will allow for improved access to the arena, especially for people traveling from points east who cannot get to the existing Belmont station directly. Improved public transportation options also could help offset some of the expected traffic near the arena, prevent drunken driving incidents, and give arena-goers an option to avoid traffic and parking fees. It also will provide a new daily transportation option for commuters living or working near the station.

What are some concerns about the station?

Local residents and elected officials have raised concerns about the impact of construction on their quality of life, including from potential environmental contaminants in the ground. They also say that extra traffic near the station could jam local streets — including near a local elementary school — and slow down emergency response times. They have called for an expanded environmental study of the proposed station. The state has studied the environmental impact of the station as part of a larger review of the arena project.

What becomes of the existing Belmont station?

The little-used Belmont Park station, which will be next to the arena, is still a key piece of the transportation plan, particularly for customers traveling to and from points west. On days with scheduled events at the arena, the LIRR will provide special shuttle trains between Jamaica Station and Belmont Station before and after events. The price tag for the station includes funding for upgraded track switches and signals at the existing station, which underwent a $5 million renovation in 2015.

When is the last time the LIRR built a station?

The last year-round station to be added to the LIRR system was at the Southhampton Campus station on the railroad’s Montauk line in Shinnecock Hills, which opened in 1976. It was closed in 1998. The newest LIRR station still in regular operation is Massapequa Park, which opened in 1933.

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