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NewsNew YorkPope Francis Visit

Extra transit service, LIRR trains rolling out for pope's visit

Pope Francis is pictured in St. Peter's Square

Pope Francis is pictured in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on Sept. 9, 2015. Credit: EPA / Alessandro Di Meo

Public transportation providers in the region will provide extra service, including on the Long Island Rail Road, to help transport people planning to see Pope Francis during his visit to Manhattan later this month.

"We are proud to host Pope Francis here in New York, and we are working to expand mass transit options to ensure that everyone can travel safely and securely during this time," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement. "I encourage anyone planning to be in New York City at that time to plan ahead and check the new travel schedules."

On Sept. 25, the LIRR will operate eight extra westbound trains, beginning about noon, into Penn Station, just below where the pope will celebrate a special Mass in Madison Square Garden.

The extra trains will include three trains originating in Babylon, two trains originating in Huntington, two trains originating in Ronkonkoma, and one train originating in Hicksville.

The LIRR said it will also have extra eastbound trains on standby at Penn to return people to Long Island after the Mass.

"Pope Francis' visit to New York is a significant honor for everyone in our service area, and we are prepared to accommodate additional customers traveling to his events along with our 8.6 million average weekday customers," Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Thomas Prendergast said in a statement. "While some schedules and routes may change, we are ready to get everyone where they need to go during this special time."

Federal officials have also enacted new security measures for the pope's visit. The Department of Homeland Security said Thursday the plan will include screening checkpoints and airspace restrictions. Authorities say the checkpoints will be along the route of the pope's motorcade and at events he will attend.

More than 25 items have been banned from papal events, including weapons, backpacks and glass or metal bottles. No balloons, selfie sticks or signs will be allowed.

The Federal Aviation Administration will have a no-fly zone in parts of Manhattan and Queens.

Authorities say it will be illegal to fly a drone anywhere in the city during the pope's visit.

Penn Station will remain open during the Mass, but some staircases may be closed at times for security reasons or to manage crowds, MTA officials said.

Throughout the pope's visit, the police departments of the MTA and Port Authority will also boost their efforts, including by conducting additional inspections, deploying special units and working with other agencies, including the Secret Service and the NYPD.

The MTA said it will also be ready to provide extra service as needed on its other agencies, including Metro-North Railroad and MTA subways. Several city bus routes are also expected to be impacted by anticipated street closures.

To avoid traffic congestion, Port Authority officials urged motorists Thursday to use public transportation throughout the papal visit, which will last from Sept. 24 to 26.

With AP

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