The MTA on Thursday provided an update as to how they are making adjustments as the demand for ridership to and from Grand Central Madison becomes clear. Credit: Marcus Santos; MTA Live

The Long Island Rail Road will reroute four rush-hour Grand Central Madison trains back to Penn Station, transit officials said Thursday, as commuters continue complaining about crowding and long waits at the LIRR's original, and most heavily used, Manhattan terminal.

Two morning trains that have been bound for Grand Central will instead terminate at Penn Station starting Monday: the 5:42 a.m. out of Ronkonkoma and the 7:54 a.m. out of Long Beach.

During the evening rush hour, the 5:28 p.m. train to Babylon, which has originated at Grand Central for the last two weeks, will instead depart from Penn Station.

In addition, one morning reverse-peak train, the 7:31 a.m. to Hempstead, will leave from Penn Station, rather than Grand Central.

"Before these schedules took effect, we said we'd be watching closely from hour one, and we have been," LIRR interim president Catherine Rinaldi said at a Grand Central news conference Thursday afternoon.

In another change, four morning Penn Station-bound trains that currently originate in Brentwood will instead start in Ronkonkoma.

Commuting to and from Grand Central, rather than Penn, Bruce Stephan said he hasn’t experienced the worst of the crowding firsthand, but has heard from his daughter of trains so crowded that passengers stand in the bathrooms.

Although the LIRR “didn’t think [its service plan] through well enough,” Stephan praised the LIRR for pivoting as necessary.

“I figured this would take a month for them to figure out things,” said Stephan, who commutes from Ronkonkoma. “I give them an ‘A’ for reacting quickly."

Rinaldi said railroad service planners have been closely monitoring ridership and looking for trends since full service to Grand Central Madison launched on Feb. 27, and are "adjusting accordingly."

Rinaldi acknowledged that the railroad "noticed a few red flags right away" in its new service plan, including higher-than-expected ridership at Penn, which has resulted in severe crowding on some trains and stations, and issues with the frequency of the new shuttle trains serving the Brooklyn branch.

Rinaldi said the railroad has since added cars to the 30 busiest trains, and added more Brooklyn trains to reduce wait times for the shuttle service to about seven minutes during peak travel periods.

"It's been better every day than the day before," said Rinaldi, who expects to roll out further changes in the coming weeks. "These are the things we can do now."

Lisa Daglian, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, which includes the LIRR Commuter Council, called the changes made so far "substantive." But, Daglian cautioned, other problems that have arisen cannot be so easily addressed, including the lack of direct trains between stations on Long Island and in Brooklyn. 

"The MTA is listening and being responsive," Daglian said. "These are great first steps. The next steps are going to just be more difficult."

For all the challenges faced by the railroad since opening Grand Central Madison — the first new Manhattan LIRR station in more than a century — MTA chairman Janno Lieber said there have also been positive signs. He noted that overall LIRR ridership on Tuesday was the second-highest of any day since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and that more people rode the railroad on Tuesday and Wednesday than any day so far this year.

The Long Island Rail Road will reroute four rush-hour Grand Central Madison trains back to Penn Station, transit officials said Thursday, as commuters continue complaining about crowding and long waits at the LIRR's original, and most heavily used, Manhattan terminal.

Two morning trains that have been bound for Grand Central will instead terminate at Penn Station starting Monday: the 5:42 a.m. out of Ronkonkoma and the 7:54 a.m. out of Long Beach.

During the evening rush hour, the 5:28 p.m. train to Babylon, which has originated at Grand Central for the last two weeks, will instead depart from Penn Station.

In addition, one morning reverse-peak train, the 7:31 a.m. to Hempstead, will leave from Penn Station, rather than Grand Central.

"Before these schedules took effect, we said we'd be watching closely from hour one, and we have been," LIRR interim president Catherine Rinaldi said at a Grand Central news conference Thursday afternoon.

In another change, four morning Penn Station-bound trains that currently originate in Brentwood will instead start in Ronkonkoma.

Commuting to and from Grand Central, rather than Penn, Bruce Stephan said he hasn’t experienced the worst of the crowding firsthand, but has heard from his daughter of trains so crowded that passengers stand in the bathrooms.

Although the LIRR “didn’t think [its service plan] through well enough,” Stephan praised the LIRR for pivoting as necessary.

“I figured this would take a month for them to figure out things,” said Stephan, who commutes from Ronkonkoma. “I give them an ‘A’ for reacting quickly."

Rinaldi said railroad service planners have been closely monitoring ridership and looking for trends since full service to Grand Central Madison launched on Feb. 27, and are "adjusting accordingly."

Rinaldi acknowledged that the railroad "noticed a few red flags right away" in its new service plan, including higher-than-expected ridership at Penn, which has resulted in severe crowding on some trains and stations, and issues with the frequency of the new shuttle trains serving the Brooklyn branch.

Rinaldi said the railroad has since added cars to the 30 busiest trains, and added more Brooklyn trains to reduce wait times for the shuttle service to about seven minutes during peak travel periods.

"It's been better every day than the day before," said Rinaldi, who expects to roll out further changes in the coming weeks. "These are the things we can do now."

Lisa Daglian, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, which includes the LIRR Commuter Council, called the changes made so far "substantive." But, Daglian cautioned, other problems that have arisen cannot be so easily addressed, including the lack of direct trains between stations on Long Island and in Brooklyn. 

"The MTA is listening and being responsive," Daglian said. "These are great first steps. The next steps are going to just be more difficult."

For all the challenges faced by the railroad since opening Grand Central Madison — the first new Manhattan LIRR station in more than a century — MTA chairman Janno Lieber said there have also been positive signs. He noted that overall LIRR ridership on Tuesday was the second-highest of any day since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and that more people rode the railroad on Tuesday and Wednesday than any day so far this year.

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Urologist sex abuse case … Carcinogens found in West Islip … LIRR's top fare evaders Credit: Newsday

Updated 58 minutes ago Deadly two-car crash in Massapequa Park ... Urologist sex abuse case ... NYS cancels wind farms ... Women softball league

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