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ICYMI: Governor Hochul Announces Long Island Rail Road Surpasses One Million Customers at Grand Central Madison

Long Island Rail Road
Updated Apr 18, 2023 6:45 p.m.
Shanifah Rieara With GCM Riders

Record Pandemic-Era Ridership Coincides with Opening of Second Manhattan Terminal

On-Time Performance Has Climbed Above 93 Percent Following Schedule Enhancements

View Photos of Today’s News Conference

View Video of Today’s News Conference


Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the Long Island Rail Road has surpassed one million paying customers traveling in or out of Grand Central Madison Terminal, which opened with full service on February 27. The milestone was surpassed on Friday, April 7. In addition, the LIRR announced several pandemic-era ridership records achieved since Grand Central Madison opened for full service. On both Saturday, April 8, and Sunday, April 9, the railroad carried record pandemic-era weekend ridership as New Yorkers used mass transit to get around during the holiday weekend - 108,740 customers traveling on Saturday and 98,030 traveling on Sunday. On Tuesday, March 21, 213,026 customers took the LIRR, surpassing the previous pandemic-era record from November 2022. 

"We have made historic investments in transit on Long Island, making it easier to connect commuters across the region," Governor Hochul said. "With the millionth rider traveling through Grand Central Madison mere months after the terminal's opening, it shows just how essential this service has already become for New Yorkers over only a short period of time." 

The LIRR also announced several milestones achieved since the opening of Grand Central Madison. This March, the LIRR has sold 358,609 City Tickets - which provides off-peak travel within New York City for $5 - a 118.5 percent increase over the previous March. The Combo Ticket, an opportunity for customers to purchase discounted tickets when traveling on both LIRR and Metro-North Railroad in the same journey made possible through the opening of Grand Central Madison, has been utilized by over 4,000 customers since its launch. Through April 18, 2023, 15,503 LIRR trains have arrived at or departed from Grand Central Madison. The MTA's popular TrainTime app has seen over 370,000 tickets purchased for trips to or from Grand Central Madison. 

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, "One million customers represent a major milestone in the rollout of Grand Central Madison. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers have had their lives improved since GCM opened - some by more convenient connections to world-renowned hospitals, others by first-time reverse commuting connecting city residents to Long Island jobs, and still others just by saving as much as 40 minutes on their daily commute. Little by little, Grand Central Madison is fundamentally transforming the fabric of New York." 

LIRR Interim President and Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi said, "The opening of full service at Grand Central Madison is enabling never-before-seen connection while also enabling generational increases in service. As we promised, we listened to our customers and enhanced service to better meet their needs. With the changes we've introduced, we have dramatically reduced delays and crowding, and customers have responded by taking the train in pandemic-era record numbers." 

MTA Acting Chief customer Officer Shanifah Rieara said, "The benefits of Grand Central Madison are clear: tens of thousands of customers with shorter commutes and expansion in service, especially for off-peak and reverse-peak customers. We said on day one that it would take time to fine tune this new terminal, and with the input of LIRR customers, we are doing just that, by enhancing schedules and improving wayfinding within the new station. As we look forward to millions of more rides to come at Grand Central Madison, I encourage customers to continue sharing their feedback, it helps us make their experience better." 

In recent weeks, schedule adjustments and lengthened trains have been introduced, increasing comfort and reliability, and boosting on-time performance above 93.5 percent. Since February 27, the LIRR has exceeded 200,000 riders on 16 days, a threshold the railroad had only crossed twice during the first 57 days of 2023. During the seven days between April 9 and April 15, the LIRR carried an average of 168,726 daily customers, the best seven-day average since March 2020. The highest daily ridership at Grand Central Madison was achieved on Tuesday, April 11, with approximately 32,060 customers traveling in and out of the new Manhattan terminal. 

To mark the milestone of one million rides being surpassed, the LIRR welcomed two Grand Central Madison customers to join the celebration: Ray Ragunauth and Karen Hamilton. Ragunauth is a physical therapist and Long Island resident, who was able to pursue new career opportunities on the East Side of Manhattan thanks to the shortened commute brought about by Grand Central Madison. Hamilton is a resident of Laurelton, Queens, who has benefited both from the introduction of more frequent service to stations within Queens and the opening of Grand Central Madison, where she frequently travels with her mother to medical appointments at NYU Langone Health. 

Chair of the LIRR Commuter Council and Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA and MTA Board Member Gerard Bringmann said, "1,000,000 Grand Central Madison trips is a major milestone for riders and the LIRR. In the few months since new LIRR service began, Grand Central Madison has opened new travel options and improvements for tens of thousands of daily LIRR riders who now have direct access and shorter commutes to the East Side. We're glad to see that the MTA has continued to respond to rider feedback through ongoing adjustments, most recently this Monday, April 17th, and look forward to seeing even more riders take advantage of new service in the coming months. Grand Central Madison is truly a symbol of a more unified and integrated transit system with both railroads and the Subway under one roof!" 

Assemblymember Charles Lavine said, "This milestone is a reminder of how the Grand Central Madison station is making life more convenient for Long Islanders seeking access to the east side of Manhattan. The railroad is an essential service and I will continue to work with my partners at the MTA who are equally committed to making improvements to service wherever they are needed." 

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, "It's another historic milestone for the MTA as we celebrate more than one million customers traveling to and from Long Island at Grand Central Terminal. Giving Long Islanders the ability to arrive at Grand Central Station is truly a game changer for our region. Here's to millions of more customers and success for New York State driven by the architectural and transportation gem that is Grand Central Station." 

Southeast Queens Resident Karen Hamilton said, "A few months ago, my mother had a doctor's appointment at 7:30 in the morning and I was able to confidently say 'take that appointment' because I knew we could take a one-seat ride to Grand Central and the doctors' offices are right over on 41st Street between Second and Third, and I knew that you could just walk over there leisurely. She's able to get to all of her doctor's appointments at NYU Langone with a one-seat ride and just a short walk. So, this has really changed her commuting and her ability to access the care that she needs at any given time." 

LIRR Customer Ray Ragunauth said, "During 2020 me and my wife decided to leave the city and go to Long Island and get a house out there, but my heart always belonged to the city. And the last six months I've had an opportunity arise to work back on the Upper East Side at a hospital up there. And, once my wife who already commutes to the Upper East Side started using the Grand Central Line, her commutes cut down to like 20-30 minutes and it became a no brainer for me to come back to the city and to be in a city that I love."