Poll finds Elmhurst favors LIRR station

Photo by Rebecca Henely
By Rebecca Henely

A recent survey by public transportation advocacy group Transportation Alternatives found that about three-fourths of Elmhurst straphangers were interested in the neighborhood having its own station on the Long Island Rail Road, although just as many had not heard of the proposal.

“People in the community like the idea of having a transportation option,” said Yuting Liu, transit campaign manager for Transportation Alternatives.

Liu was one of several speakers at a community forum held by U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) April 11 at St. James Episcopal Church.

The church, at 84-07 Broadway in Elmhurst, is a short walk from the LIRR’s overpass for the Port Washington line at Broadway and Whitney and Cornish avenues. Crowley and Dromm have advocated for the LIRR to reopen the station that once sat on the overpass since January. The station was closed in 1985 after ridership declined, but the population has grown in recent years.

“It’s incredible to see elected officials from the federal, state and city level come together and stick up for transportation riders,” Liu said.

In response, the LIRR said it was feasible to reopen the station — which would cost $30 million with handicapped-accessibility features — but was developing a survey to determine if Elmhurst residents would pay the higher fares to use the train.

Liu said her organization’s survey had a sample of about 120 people who used the Elmhurst Avenue M and R subway station. Of the sample, 73 percent said they had not heard of the proposal to reopen the station, but 73 percent said they supported it. Liu said those who did not said they did not want to pay the higher fare cost.

Dromm encouraged those at the meeting to spread the word about the Elmhurst station plan.

Other findings of the Transportation Alternatives survey were that 54 percent of riders had a daily commute of 30 minutes, with another 44 percent saying they had commutes that were 45 minutes or longer.

Most Elmhurst Avenue riders said their top priority was having a cleaner subway station. Other improvements on their wishlist were better lighting, reliable weekend service, more countdown clocks and more information about subway service.

Liu said her organization is dedicated to staving off another fare hike, especially in light of all the bus routes and subway lines the city lost in 2010.

“New York City transit riders really are paying more for less,” she said.

Jacob Balter, regional transportation planner for the LIRR, said the 60 people who showed up at the church represented a good turnout.

“I think it was really helpful to get the community’s input,” Balter said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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