Congresswoman Grace Meng is receiving support from western Queens lawmakers as she renews her effort to reopen the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station in Elmhurst after its closure decades ago.
In a new letter to LIRR Interim President Catherine Rinaldi, which was also signed by local city and state elected officials, Meng said that reopening the station could be an economic boon for Elmhurst and the surrounding neighborhoods, once again providing its residents access to Manhattan and the rest of Queens.
“Queens has steadily outpaced New York City’s population growth for decades and one of the ways we must adapt to accommodate such growth is providing residents with additional modes of accessible public transportation,” Meng said. “The Elmhurst stop on the LIRR has been closed for too long, and there is a reason the effort to get it reopened is reinvigorated so often; it would provide those in Elmhurst and nearby neighborhoods with a closer, faster and a more direct commute to help them go about their daily lives.”
The facility first began providing railroad service in 1927. It served the Elmhurst and surrounding communities for nearly 60 years until it was shut down and demolished in 1985 due to low ridership. However, the population of Elmhurst has grown significantly since the station was closed and reopening it would provide a faster commute to Manhattan for local residents, while also lessening the burden put on the subway and buses.
In 2013, the MTA/Long Island Rail Road commissioned a survey on the potential reopening of the station. The survey found that the station would generate roughly 1,700 peak period morning passengers and would average nearly 3,800 trips per day.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr., Senators Jessica Ramos, Michael Gianaris, Joseph Addabbo, Assemblyman Steven Raga and Councilman Shekar Krishnan said western Queens residents need more accessible transit options.
“At a time where New Yorkers are being asked to restore their trust in mass transit, we should place much more emphasis on providing equitable transportation access for all communities,” Richards said. “We can take a big step in that direction by reopening the Elmhurst LIRR station. I greatly thank Congresswoman Meng for drawing the MTA’s attention to the need to reopen this station and to continue to address persistent inequities in public transportation.”
For Ramos, reopening the Elmhurst station is going to relieve some of the pressure off the crowded streets and the No. 7 train.
“Elmhurst is a historic transit desert, and an out-of-use station is a painful reminder of how much there is to do to connect my neighbors to reliable, accessible public transit,” Ramos said.
Gianaris said western Queens is among the fastest-growing areas of the country and desperately needs more, and better, transit options.
“Reopening this Long Island Rail Road station will improve mobility for those commuting and increase ease of access for people who want to explore all Elmhurst has to offer,” Gianaris said. “I’m glad to be working with Rep. Grace Meng to urge the MTA to make this important enhancement.”
As the population in Queens continues to grow, Addabbo said it is important to provide people with accessible modes of public transportation.
“I join my colleagues in government in calling on the MTA to consider reopening the Elmhurst LIRR station, which would service thousands of residents each day, and provide them with fast and reliable transit options to and from Manhattan and other areas of Queens,” Addabbo said.
While Elmhurst has seen a steady increase in population growth outpacing the rest of NYC, Raga said the state must provide and accommodate the transportation needs that his neighbors deserve.
“I stand alongside my city, state and federal government colleagues to call upon the MTA to consider re-opening the Long Island Rail Road station in Elmhurst, and to provide access and further mobility to thousands of commuters in our community,” Raga said.
According to Krishnan, as the neighborhood continues to attract new New Yorkers from all over the world, the reopening of the LIRR station will provide “sorely needed transit to serve them.”
“It is long overdue, and I urge the MTA to work with Congresswoman Meng and me to make this a reality,” Krishnan said.