The Long Island Rail Road on Thursday announced bi-directional service is coming to the Elmont UBS Arena station, in what officials called a "game-changer." NewsdayTV's Alfonso A. Castillo reports. Credit: Newdsay/Howard Schnapp

The Long Island Rail Road’s new station at the UBS Arena in Elmont is now open for business in both directions on days when there are events, and will serve riders round-the-clock by the end of the year, officials announced Thursday. 

Westbound service at the Elmont-UBS Arena station began Thursday, in time for the New York Islanders’ first preseason game of the year.

The station — the first added to the LIRR system in nearly 50 years — opened in November, but could only serve eastbound trains. Fans looking to access the station from points east would have to ride past it, and then double back. And fans who did take the train to the arena would have to use limited shuttle trains from the LIRR’s old Belmont station, or take shuttle buses to Queens Village to catch a train there.

The lack of options discouraged some Long Island fans from taking the train to the arena, located at Belmont Park. 

“We said that we’d get it done in time for the Islanders’ season opener, and we did,” LIRR President Catherine Rinaldi said at a ceremony at the station Thursday commemorating the milestone.

“Fans who live east of Belmont now have a one-seat ride to watch the Islanders beat the Panthers,” Rinaldi added, referencing the Islanders’ first regular season opponent which will be played next week. 

The introduction of bidirectional service was made possible by infrastructure grades included in the LIRR’s $2.5 billion effort to build a Third Track between Floral Park and Hicksville. The LIRR announced Monday that the 10-mile track was completed and in service. 

“Having both modern, accessible platforms open at the world-class Elmont-UBS Arena Station is a victory for Long Island and the State of New York,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said a statement.

For now, trains only stop at the station during event days, but Rinaldi said by the end of the year, the station will operate “365 days a year” as a regular stop on the Hempstead branch. 

Bringing full-time service to the station will require signal upgrades that are planned later this month. As a result, there will be no LIRR service available for the Islanders’ Oct. 29 game at the arena, officials said.

Offering full-time service at the station was key to winning support from residents and elected officials in Elmont, who have long sought improved transit options. 

“Elmont is a wonderful community, a working class community,” Assemb. Michaelle C. Solages (D-Elmont) said. “People come here from all parts of the world looking for the American dream, looking for opportunity. This train station is going to allow them to go seek that … opportunity, whether it’s in the city or out on Long Island.”

The $105 million effort to build the new station received 90% of its funding from arena developers, and 10% from the state. Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said the investment was worthwhile for the team’s fans — “the most loyal in all sports.” 

“It’s been a pain point sometimes for them to get out here. But now they have the ability to go from either Penn Station or Grand Central Madison station, in 30 minutes, directly to the game,” he said. “Think about what a game changer that means for this arena and our county and for the City of New York.” 

The Long Island Rail Road’s new station at the UBS Arena in Elmont is now open for business in both directions on days when there are events, and will serve riders round-the-clock by the end of the year, officials announced Thursday. 

Westbound service at the Elmont-UBS Arena station began Thursday, in time for the New York Islanders’ first preseason game of the year.

The station — the first added to the LIRR system in nearly 50 years — opened in November, but could only serve eastbound trains. Fans looking to access the station from points east would have to ride past it, and then double back. And fans who did take the train to the arena would have to use limited shuttle trains from the LIRR’s old Belmont station, or take shuttle buses to Queens Village to catch a train there.

The lack of options discouraged some Long Island fans from taking the train to the arena, located at Belmont Park. 

“We said that we’d get it done in time for the Islanders’ season opener, and we did,” LIRR President Catherine Rinaldi said at a ceremony at the station Thursday commemorating the milestone.

“Fans who live east of Belmont now have a one-seat ride to watch the Islanders beat the Panthers,” Rinaldi added, referencing the Islanders’ first regular season opponent which will be played next week. 

The introduction of bidirectional service was made possible by infrastructure grades included in the LIRR’s $2.5 billion effort to build a Third Track between Floral Park and Hicksville. The LIRR announced Monday that the 10-mile track was completed and in service. 

“Having both modern, accessible platforms open at the world-class Elmont-UBS Arena Station is a victory for Long Island and the State of New York,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said a statement.

For now, trains only stop at the station during event days, but Rinaldi said by the end of the year, the station will operate “365 days a year” as a regular stop on the Hempstead branch. 

Bringing full-time service to the station will require signal upgrades that are planned later this month. As a result, there will be no LIRR service available for the Islanders’ Oct. 29 game at the arena, officials said.

Offering full-time service at the station was key to winning support from residents and elected officials in Elmont, who have long sought improved transit options. 

“Elmont is a wonderful community, a working class community,” Assemb. Michaelle C. Solages (D-Elmont) said. “People come here from all parts of the world looking for the American dream, looking for opportunity. This train station is going to allow them to go seek that … opportunity, whether it’s in the city or out on Long Island.”

The $105 million effort to build the new station received 90% of its funding from arena developers, and 10% from the state. Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said the investment was worthwhile for the team’s fans — “the most loyal in all sports.” 

“It’s been a pain point sometimes for them to get out here. But now they have the ability to go from either Penn Station or Grand Central Madison station, in 30 minutes, directly to the game,” he said. “Think about what a game changer that means for this arena and our county and for the City of New York.” 

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