For any community to truly be served by the Long Island Rail Road, it must have year-round daily service. Off-season weekend service to Greenport should never have been cut, and the announcement of its restoration is good news.
Train service allows people to live in a community without owning a car, and it provides a promise that riders can trust commuter rail to get them where they need to go. When the LIRR elininated year-round daily service to Greenport in 2010 to cut costs, it broke that promise.
The reinstatement reflects an improving economy and the increasing popularity of the North Fork. The original cut left Greenport with weekend service only from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but the schedule was expanded to include weekend service from March to November even before this announcement. LIRR officials say they were influenced to restore service by the growth of the North Fork as a year-round destination, and by the success and potential of the railroad’s own getaway packages to this unique wine and agriculture region.
In other East End transit news, the LIRR announced a new South Fork Commuter Connection, a small train to travel daily between Speonk and Montauk. This could be the start of some very big thinking. Intra-island travel offers a tremendous growth opportunity for the LIRR and a way to get some cars off of our clogged country roads and ease the shortage of workers who require public transportation to get to jobs.
The challenge in the East End is managing its popularity. We want a healthy economy and jobs but must maintain its idyllic flavor for the region to thrive. Increased train service everywhere is crucial — with daily service anywhere the bare minimum.