By Howard Koplowitz
The MTA’s new schedule includes the elimination of the Belmont Park Long Island Rail Road station, but the New York Racing Association said the closure will have minimal impact on attendance at the track.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s changes, which went into effect Monday, includes dropping daily service to Belmont Park during the horse racing season.
NYRA spokesman Dan Silver said few Belmont customers get to the track via the LIRR.
On weekdays, 75 Belmont customers on average use the train to visit the track, Silver said, while 275 customers on average take the LIRR on weekends.
“It’s a fairly small percentage,” he said.
Silver said NYRA is providing free shuttle service from the Queens Village LIRR station to Belmont during the closure.
“We just want to offer our customers a good service,” he said.
It is unclear whether the MTA plans on restoring service at the Belmont LIRR stop next year.
Besides using the free shuttle service, the agency said LIRR passengers have other options, although they are more indirect routes than the shuttle.
The MTA said passengers can take the Q27 bus at the LIRR Queens Village station and then transfer to the Q2 at Springfield Boulevard and Hempstead Avenue or take the E train to Parsons Boulevard and transfer to the Q110 bus to Belmont.
The Belmont LIRR stop will be operating June 4 and 5 for the Belmont Stakes, the MTA said.
Next month’s Belmont Stakes does not have as much hype surrounding it as in recent years since no horse has a chance to win the Triple Crown and the victorious horses in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes — Super Saver and Lookin at Lucky — have pulled out of Belmont.
Last year, jockey Calvin Borel had the opportunity to become the first person to win the Triple Crown by riding two different horses but failed. In 2008, Triple Crown contender Big Brown raced with the chance to be the first horse to win the title since Affirmed in 1978. He came in dead last.
Silver said attendance will not be quite as high at Belmont if there had been a chance for a Triple Crown winner.
Last year 52,861 people witnessed the race at Belmont.
In 2008, the crowd had nearly double that amount — 94,476 — with the allure of a Triple Crown contender.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.