Queens Buses and Regional Rail

Queens needs a bus redesign, thankfully already in the works; it also needs better LIRR service that city residents can use as if it’s an express subway. A key part of bus redesign is having buses and trains work together, so that buses feed trains where possible rather than competing with them. The proposed Queens redesign incorporates subway transfers but not LIRR transfers since the LIRR is infrequent and charges premium fares. This raises the question – how does the optimal bus network for Queens change in the presence of better city service on the LIRR? And conversely, how can the LIRR be designed to be of better use to Queens bus riders?

It turns out that the answer to both questions is “very little.” The best Queens bus network in a city where the LIRR lines through Queens run every 5-10 minutes all day is largely the same as the best network in a city where the LIRR remains an exclusive suburb-to-Manhattan mode. Similarly, bus connections change little when it comes to infill stations on the LIRR for better city service. This is not a general fact of bus redesigns and regional rail – the reason for this pattern has to do with the importance of Flushing and Jamaica. Nor does it mean that regional rail is irrelevant to buses in Queens – it just means that the benefits of rerouting buses to serve additional LIRR stations are too small compared with the drawbacks.

Flushing and Jamaica

This is the present-day subway infrastructure:

This is a deinterlined map, but the infrastructure in Queens is the same

The 7 train terminates in Flushing; the E (drawn in F-orange above) and J/Z terminate in Jamaica, while the F terminates in Jamaica as well slightly farther east. As a result, the proposed Queens redesign has many buses from farther east diverting to one of these two neighborhood centers in order to connect with the subway better.

The LIRR changes the rail network situation. The Port Washington Branch, probably the easiest to turn into frequent S-Bahn service, parallels the 7 but continues past Flushing into the suburbs, with closely-spaced stations in the city from Flushing east. The Main Line likewise runs parallel to the Queens Boulevard Line and then continues east past Jamaica with additional stations in Eastern Queens, with branches for the Montauk Line and the Atlantic Line (Far Rockaway and Long Beach Branches).

The ideal bus grid is isotropic. An extension of train service in the radial direction makes it easier to run a bus grid, because buses could just go north-south on major streets: Main, Kissena-Parsons, 149th, 162nd-164th, Utopia, 188th, Francis Lewis, Bell-Springfield. In contrast, the planned redesign diverts the 164th route to Jamaica to connect to the subway, and treats 149th as a pure Flushing feeder. Moreover, the east-west buses in Northeast Queens all divert to serve Flushing.

However, in practice, all of these kinks are necessary regardless of what happens to the LIRR. Queens destinations are not isotropic. Flushing and Jamaica are both important business districts. Jamaica also has transit connections that can’t be provided at an existing or infill LIRR Main Line station, namely the JFK AirTrain and the multi-line LIRR transfer.

Southeast Queens

I can think of one broad exception to the rule that the optimal bus redesign for Queens is insensitive to what happens to the LIRR: the radial lines going from Jamaica to the southeast. These include the Merrick Boulevard routes, today the Q4, Q5, and N4, or QT18 and QT40-42 in the redesign; and the Guy Brewer Boulevard routes, today the Q111 and Q113-4 and in the redesign the QT13, QT19, QT43, and QT45. As of 2019, each of the two avenues carries slightly fewer than 20,000 riders per weekday.

Those buses are likely to lose traffic if LIRR service on the Montauk and Atlantic Lines improves. Long-range traffic is far faster by train; I expect people to walk long distances to an LIRR station, a kilometer or even more, for a direct, subway-fare trip to Manhattan coming every 10 minutes. Even lines that require people to change at Jamaica should wipe out most bus ridership, since the transfer at Jamaica is designed to be pleasant (cross-platform, usually timed).

In their stead, buses should run orthogonally to the train. Linden should get a single bus route, which in the redesign proposal is the QT7, losing the Linden-Jamaica QT40 in the process and instead running the QT7 more frequently. Farmers, running north-south crossing the Main, Montauk, and Atlantic Lines, should get higher frequency, on what is today the Q3 and in the redesign the QT68; in both cases it diverts to Jamaica rather than continuing north to Bayside and Whitestone, but as explained above, this is a necessary consequence of the job concentration in Jamaica.

LIRR infill

Integrated design of buses and trains means not just moving the buses to serve the trains, but also choosing train station locations for the best bus transfers. One example of this is in the Bronx: Penn Station Access plans should include one more infill station, built at Pelham Parkway to connect to the Bx12. By the same token, we can ask how bus-rail connections impact LIRR planning.

The answer is that, just as they only lightly impact bus route design, they do not impact LIRR station siting. Ideally, LIRR stations should be sited at major streets in order to connect with buses better. However, this is to a large extent already the case, and places where moving a station or building infill is valuable are sporadic:

  • On the Port Washington Branch, there is no station at Francis Lewis. It may be valuable to build one, or alternatively to close Auburndale and replace it with two stations, one right at Francis Lewis and one at Utopia.
  • On the Main Line, Queens Village is already at Springfield, Hollis is already at 188th/Farmers, and an infill station at Merrick is valuable regardless of what happens with the buses. A Francis Lewis station is plausible, but is so close to both Hollis and Queens Village that I don’t think it’s necessarily a good idea.
  • The Montauk Line is not penetrated by many crossing arterials. Linden already has a station, St. Albans. Then to the south there is an awkward succession of three intersections within 850 meters: Farmers, Merrick, Springfield. The least bad option is probably to build an infill stop in the middle at Merrick, with the shopping center as an anchor, and with ramps leading to Farmers and Springfield.
  • The Atlantic Line has the Locus Manor stop at Farmers, and Rosedale at Francis Lewis. Laurelton may be moved a bit west to hit Springfield better, and in addition, 1-2 infill stations are valuable, one at Linden and possibly also one at Baisley. But the Linden infill, like the Merrick infill, is fully justified regardless of bus transfers

Conclusion

In Queens, the importance of Flushing and Jamaica works to permit mostly separate planning of bus and regional rail service, except to some extent in Southeast Queens. This is not true in most other places, especially not elsewhere in New York. It follows from the fact that without city-usable LIRR service, buses have to divert to Flushing and Jamaica to feed the subway, whereas with city-usable LIRR service, buses still have to divert to Flushing and Jamaica because they are important business and cultural centers.

This is useful, because transit is a complex system, so anytime it’s possible to break it into mostly independently-planned components, it gets more tractable. If the bus redesign doesn’t require dealing with Long Island NIMBYs and traditional railroaders, and if turning the LIRR into a useful S-Bahn doesn’t require simultaneously redrawing the Queens bus map, then both processes become easier. A redesigned Queens bus map already comes pre-optimized for future LIRR improvements with mostly cosmetic changes, and this is good for the process of transit modernization.

32 comments

  1. Tom M

    Total noob question, but what is a S-Bahn type service? What does a good or great S-Bhan service look like?

    • Alon Levy

      An S-Bahn is a mainline train that is used as urban rail. It consists of service with the interstation of an express subway, with off-peak frequency of 4-6 minutes in the city, and total fare integration with the subway and buses. It goes into the suburbs and branches there with frequency falling to 10-20 minutes on the branches (sometimes 30 but that gets into longer-range RegionalBahn levels). The prototypical examples are the Paris RER, the Berlin and Munich S-Bahns, Crossrail once it is complete, Seoul Subway Line 1, and most of the Tokyo urban rail system.

  2. Allan Rosen

    Queens does need a bus redesign as does the other boroughs, but not for the reasons they are being done. Redesigns are needed to speed total travel time, reduce transferring, to increase accessibility by improving connections between neighborhoods, and to rationalize the fare structure so that multiple fares and transfers are not needed for short trips. But the major purpose of the redesign is to save money. This will be accomplished by speeding bus travel times without considering total travel time. It will reduce accessibility by increasing walking distances to and from bus stops. This increases your chances of missing a bus and increases total travel time. The need for transferring is also increased in some cases. In many cases the faster bus speeds will be wiped out by walking further and missing connections. In inclement weather, this will reduce demand for buses. The redesigns need to be done for the correct purposes.

  3. Stephen Bauman

    What’s the capacity (buses per hour) that an intersection can handle? Is there any definitive literature on this subject?

    I raise the question because I believe bus capacity has been exceeded in both Flushing and Jamaica. Of the 40 busiest hourly bus counts for intersections, 35 are in either Jamaica or Flushing; only 5 are in Manhattan. Also, because Jamaica and Flushing are heavy shopping centers, there is heavy pedestrian traffic.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Henry Miller

      I think you are asking the wrong question. You can get far more buses through an intersection than can ever be useful. You should have no problem getting more than 400 through an intersection every hour if that is what you want to do, and if the roads are more than two lanes in any direction you can go more. However you probably want the buses to stop and pick up and drop off people – that is the point of buses after all.

      Here we need to talk about bus lines. That is a set of buses all running the same route at different times. If you have a bus line that takes 2 hours to go all the way out and back; and you put 4 buses on that route you can get a bus every half and hour. You can add more buses if we want service more often. However as you add more you need better operations to ensure that the buses are evenly spaced (otherwise a late bus gets latter because of people who should wait for the next bus get lucky and get on sooner – taking time), so the absolute limit is 20 buses per hour each way (or 40 both directions). At 15 buses per hour though you really should be looking at some form a train (subway or elevated) to take load off.

      But we are not limited to a single line. We can go north/south and east/west lines. We can also run express buses that stop at a few intersections and then run non-stop to some place. We can to limited stop buses that speed up the the full trip only stopping every other intersection (or some other pattern). We can do many other variations of patterns (which can use the express and limited terms to mean something completely different). If we do these well they each take pressure off of each line and so none get to the point of needing an expensive train, while gaining the flexibility of the bus. (though eventually you should build the expensive train anyway as it is cheaper in the long run.

      both places you mention are natural places for a lot of buses to converge: people want to get there anyway, so you may as well make it easy. One useful way to run a lot of buses is what is called a radial pattern. You have all buses meet at a common location and time (time doesn’t matter if the buses run often enough, but if the bus isn’t at least every 10 minutes it is important), that way people from all over the city can ride a bus to the one common location and then switch to some other bus (or train) going elsewhere.

      The alternate to a radial pattern is a grid where you can get off at any intersection to switch to a different bus. There is a lot of pros and cons to each, and a lot of debate on how to run a system. there is no one size fits all though.

      Now re-think your question and figure out what you really wanted to ask. There are good questions to ask that the data you are looking at can help, but there are also some questions that are not useful, or even misleading.

      • Stephen Bauman

        Thank you for your reply.

        Here’s why I believe my question is germane to the question of Queens bus service in Flushing and by extension to Jamaica. The bus volumes crossing these intersections are in excess of 200 per hour for extended periods of time. Here’s why I believe there would be difficulty in getting more than 400 buses per hour through these intersections.

        First, the roadways are narrow – 50 ft for Main St and 35-40 ft for Roosevelt Ave. Both are two-way and their curb lanes are used as bus stops. This means a single lane of buses at the intersections.

        Second, there are traffic signals and buses that are turning. The limit the total travel time and turning buses limit the travel speed for both the turning bus and its follower. This means there is less time to traverse the intersections and each crossing will take longer.

        Third, there is heavy pedestrian traffic that conflicts with turning buses. This further reduces the amount of time for buses to cross the intersection because pedestrians have the right of way.

        Let’s consider the time it takes a bus to clear the Main St/Roosevelt Ave intersection for its follower to proceed into the intersection. The intersection stop line-to-stop line is approximately 75 feet long, as determined by Google Map’s measurement tool. The bus is a nominal 40 or 60 feet long. The bus’ speed averages approximately 10 mph. The bus must travel 115 or 135 (75 + (40 or 60 ft)) feet to cross the intersection cleanly. However, the follower must wait until there is room on the opposite side without blocking the intersection before entering the intersection. That’s the “don’t block the box” traffic regulation in NYC. This adds an additional bus length to the leader’s time slot and makes the travel distance 155 or 195 feet. Simple division suggests that the leader occupies a time interval of 10 to 13 seconds. The traffic signal provides 55 seconds of green aspect for a 120 second cycle time. This means the available time for crossing the intersection is 1650 seconds. That works out to 127 to 165 buses per hour, for a single lane in a single direction.

        It ignores complications due to turning buses, pedestrian traffic and assumes there are no blockages that prevent the leader from providing a slot on the far side of the intersection for the follower. It’s been my experience as a resident in this area for 55 years, that such ideal conditions seldom exist. This is why I’m trying to find out the planning guidelines for the number of buses per hour through an intersection.

        N.B. some literature from a century ago suggested the max was 120 trolley cars per hour through an intersection. One of the MTA’s bus planners told me their guideline was 60 buses per hour but he did not know whether that was one-way or two-way operation. In either case, it would appear that these guidelines have been exceeded.

        • Henry Miller

          My knowledge of this area is close to zero, so I can only give general guidelines that you need to figure out if they apply.

          Are these roads bus only, or is there other traffic. If there is other traffic to deal with, then you are correct, they can’t successfully run this many buses in mixed traffic. If it is only buses, then the central dispatch should be keeping track of where the buses are (a GPS accurate to one foot isn’t that expensive, cheap consumer ones are a little too inaccurate, but one foot is available and good enough, though I’m sure in NYC we need an upgraded antenna, and some other things to cover dead spots which drives up cost, but still this should be available off the shelf). Once they know where each bus is they know if there will be room on the other side of the intersection and can start the bus sooner.

          Note, I’m assuming most of these buses will turn in a few blocks. If they are running lots of buses on the same road for long distances then it is time to put in a subway (or elevated if you prefer), which even at NYC costs will pay for itself in reduced labor. Since Alon hasn’t suggested add more subways I’m going to assume there isn’t enough demand in any one direction and so this is just a bottleneck of a meeting point.

          • adirondacker12800

            Some of them loop around a block away from Main St. Some of them pass through to the other end of the route. Some of them terminate. I counted to 15 on the Flushing insert on this

            https://new.mta.info/map/5371

            And stopped. Most railfans want to send the subway north. Has something to do with during Railroad Mania III someone thought it was a good idea to provide a third railroad to Hempstead and someday bridge Long Island Sound. Even though more bus routes come in from the south. Where more people live.

          • Henry

            @adirondacker: idk, I feel like I’ve seen more proposals to extend the Flushing Line east to Bayside.\

            @Henry Miller: Flushing and Jamaica have congestion issues, but they manifest differently.

            https://goo.gl/maps/Gjgwj33n12HAbJpE6 In Flushing, the major congestion problem is north-south. There is one road, Main St, that all north-south traffic, including buses, funnels onto. It crosses under a railroad which cuts off many other streets. Due to both this and the odd historic street layout (Flushing was founded in Dutch colonial times) Main St is the only road for quite a distance that connects completely between Northern Blvd and the Long Island Expressway. The nearest road to the west that does that is a quarter mile away; the nearest road to the east is 1.3 miles away.

            The City is now converting this chokepoint into a busway limiting most car traffic, but I would wait to see how that plan actually works out in practice: https://www1.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/main-st-flushing-busway-pilot-overview-jul2020.pdf

            Jamaica has issues with congestion, yes, but the major issue there is that there probably need to be double, not single bus lanes to allow buses to pass; a single bus lane doesn’t really work at those volumes. The other issue is that Jamaica’s main pain point is a lack of spaces for buses to lay over. Many buses terminate in Jamaica, and the majority of the space that isn’t bus stops is already bus layover space. There are buses routes terminating early outside Jamaica because there is no space to layover their buses in it. And you can’t really through-run buses the way you could through run regional rail, because a lot of these bus routes are already 45-60 minute runtimes and very unreliable.

            The other problem is that these areas have very high pedestrian volumes, which block turns at four way intersections. The City and MTA have spent years tinkering with the exact way buses turn in these areas to try and reduce the impact of pedestrian/turning bus conflicts, with little to show for it.

          • adirondacker12800

            @adirondacker: idk, I feel like I’ve seen more proposals to extend the Flushing Line east to Bayside.
            The Astoria line has three tracks so the expresses from Bayside would have someplace to go. There have been all sorts of cockmamie plans to duplicate the electrified railroad through Bayside that has express service to Manhattan. It’s been electrified since 1913 according to Wikipedia.
            A big chunk of the mighty Flushing Boston and Halifax or whatever it was called is still there. Kissena Corridor Park. The Northern Blvd El can swoop down into a subway for a few blocks under Main Street and point itself at Floral Park that way. It’s been encroached. It’s easier to see where it was on this map.
            https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3804n.ct001640r/?r=0.416,0.248,0.342,0.199,0

    • Paul

      Several hundred, depending on the signal timing and the vehicle dynamics of the buses. Road capacity is not usually the limiting factor for bus service, stations are. Generally the highest capacity bus routes are bus rapid transit (BRT) lines with dedicated lanes and developed stations with level platforms and off-board fare payment. Even those can reach capacity when buses start queueing outside stations waiting for a berth to open up, or when there is no longer enough space in the station to accommodate all the passengers waiting for a bus.

      • Stephen Bauman

        Thank you for your reply.

        Neither Downtown Flushing or Jamaica is likely to see real BRT service. The real estate is just too valuable. I’m interested in determining the current bus capacity with turning buses, traffic signals, and loads of pedestrians.

        • Henry

          Downtown Flushing is sufficiently constrained, that I’m surprised there aren’t proposals to either build an underground busway for all the north-south buses, or an underground sub-surface Stadtbahn-type light rail network replacing the routes that fan out south and north from Main St.

  4. Richard Mlynarik

    Alon, your maps and narrative are very difficult to follow without any labels or captions on the maps.

    Imagine you are a person interested in your ideas and their general applicability, not, say, some local with Very Strong Opinions about the stop pattern of a particular bus line.

    Well for starters … where is “Queens” on this map? Et seq.

    (I write as somebody with decades-long writer’s block AND a total inability to communicate graphically and simply, so I know how much work it to put anything at all out there, starting with cogent text.)

  5. adirondacker12800

    built at Pelham Parkway to connect to the Bx12.
    Or they could have the bus go to the station instead of having a second very expensive station five blocks away. I have no idea where very specifically they are planning to put the Co-op City Penn Station Access station. At the Thruway Service Road where the Bx12 runs late nights might be nice. The people using the bus from Co-op City to get to get to the subway now would then the option of taking Penn Station Access. I assume the most if not all the buses circulating in Co-Op City will be going to the Penn Station Access station. Chances are good that they are being very clever and arranging that.
    I’m also assuming the platforms will be able to accommodate 12 car M8s not two trolley cars and there will be more than one way to enter the station at the Co-op City stop. 1000-ish feet/300-ish meters.

    ….. you do understand there are 60.000 people living in Co-op City, it’s in between two limited access highways, there are few ways to get in or out, meaning the multiple bus lines serving it funnel through those limited access points?

    Click to access busbx.pdf


    Click to access bx012cur.pdf

    • Alon Levy

      very expensive

      At Boston/Philadelphia/Berlin costs, that’s $20 million, give or take. New York’s inability to build train stations affordably is not a God-given constraint.

      • adirondacker12800

        It’s five blocks away. The southwestern end of the Co-op City platforms would be the northeastern end of Pelham Parkway platforms.

    • GojiMet86

      Click to access Penn%20Station%20Access%20Project%20Overview.pdf

      If the renderings are in any way accurate, or at the very least a foundation, the station would be at Erskine Place, with the stairs and overpass to the station at Hunter Avenue; basically in front of Garage 8. The Bx26, Bx28, Bx30, and the Q50 all terminate there.

      If we assume the midpoint is indeed at Hunter Avenue, and if the platform is long enough for 8 cars (8×85 foot cars=680 feet), then the platform would stretch from Boller Avenue to Earhart Lane.

      Yeah, the Bx12 (or a new variation) would be better off running to Co-Op MNRR than building a new station some 3,000 feet away at Pelham Parkway.

      • adirondacker12800

        I’m not in the mood to disentangle the umpteen bus routes in Co-op City. Taking a The Grand Tour of Co-Op City to go from Flushing to Stamford to get to the underbelly of the Thruway where I was ten minutes ago would be annoying. A bus stop on the Thruway Service Road with stairs and elevators down to the platforms would be nice. Who knows what they are going to do. Likely something stupid, like Grand Tours of Co-op City. And it’s going to be 10 or 12 car platforms.

  6. Stephen Bauman

    I believe special circumstances on the Port Washington LIRR Branch make it possible to provide 75% of S-Bahn service without an S-Bahn. Existing trackage makes it possible to operate frequent shuttle service between the Bayside and Willets Point stations. This would eliminate a lengthy and unpredictable bus ride into Downtown Flushing.

    Passengers would then transfer to the subway line at Willets Point to complete the trip into Manhattan. The key to providing frequent shuttle service are direction reversing capabilities that don’t interfere with existing through service and room for an express track to bypass the slower moving shuttle. The Port Washington Branch provides both.

    The Willets Point station has 6 tracks and 3 platforms as a relic from the 1964 World’s Fair. Only 1 platform is currently and seldom used. One of the other platforms would allow shuttles to idle and turn around without interfering with through service into Manhattan.

    There is a train yard east of the Bayside Station. Switch and third rail would be required to make this yard function for reversing shuttle trains. The direction reversal would be done in the yard and not interfere with through trains. There are time consuming FRA regulations for reversing train direction that could interfere with through trains. (There are also FRA regulations that limit the number of trains in a tunnel that may reduce East Side Access capacity. That’s another story but may make frequent service into Manhattan difficult.)

    Finally, the right of way at the Murray Hill Station is wide enough for 4 tracks. Two inner tracks and switches could be built to permit through trains to bypass shuttle trains that have stopped at the station.

    Fare collection could be be implemented with the existing machines used for the SBS service. Those entering the LIRR stations would swipe their Metrocard and receive a paper receipt. This receipt would be surrendered to the LIRR conductor. The Metrocard swipe at Willets Point would be free, like the free bus/subway transfer.

    • adirondacker12800

      Or they could just run the trains all the way into Manhattan relieving overcrowding on the subway.

      • Stephen Bauman

        Current East River LIRR service level capacity is 24 trains per hour. An additional service that operates every 5 minutes would require an additional 50%. There just isn’t the capacity to operate additional trains all the way into Manhattan via the LIRR.

        Also, the shuttle represents a big fare decrease. Those currently using the Port Washington Branch in Nassau County would object to any fare discount to NYC dwellers. They would also take their cars to Bayside to use the city service due to the reduced fare. There has to be a clear difference in the ride to justify any fare differential between a NYC service and the through service.

        • adirondacker12800

          they are promising 20 an hour to Grand Central and 30 an hour to Penn Station. They do more than 30 an hour to Penn Station now.

        • Henry

          We’re building a massive $12B hole under Grand Central to solve the capacity problem.

          I don’t think that Alon has ever proposed regional rail service at current LIRR fare levels, because LIRR fare levels are totally bonkers.

          • Stephen Bauman

            The capacity problem will remain, after ESA comes on line. Any vacated slots from Penn Sta will be filled by Metro North with service over the Hell Gate Bridge. NYS and NJ are already arguing over any slots the LIRR will give up.

            ESA will not materially increase the LIRR’s Manhattan service. It’s morphed into a way to provide additional service for Metro North. More LIRR service into Manhattan would require additional rolling stock and the facilities to store and maintain them. Increasing yard capacity and the number of rail cars are long lead projects. Here any news about ordering new LIRR cars that are not replacements? What about building extra yard facilities?

            Bait and switch is a favorite tactic in NYC/NYS. I remember my parents discussing the 1950 bond issue that would be used to build the Second Avenue Subway. That bond issue passed and the Second Avenue Subway was built. Well the first part is true – the bond issue passed. It’s April 1st, so I’m taking liberties regarding the SAS completion. The bond proceeds were diverted to other projects before a fast talker could yell “stop thief.”

          • Henry

            The MTA is expanding Port Washington Yard too, to run a proposed service increase of nine new peak hour trains. https://theislandnow.com/roslyn-109/town-continues-port-washington-lirr-expansion-talks/ The service plans that I’ve seen (and can’t find anymore, since Google seems to not like old links) is that during the rush hour there is going to be a doubling of service.

            The M9As are supposed to be the ESA fleet, and are paid for, but in classic MTA fashion the original order of M9s to replace M3s is running well behind schedule.

          • adirondacker12800

            Going from 40 trains an hour, which is more than they do now, to 50 trains an hour is a 25 percent increase. They’ll be running longer trains because some of them will no longer be originating in Brooklyn or Long Island City where the platforms are short. The way to put more people onto the Flushing line to cover the cars in the loop side of Velcro and give people vests with the fuzzy side of Velcro on it so they can stick themselves to the outside of the cars.
            Half the trains between Great Neck and Flushing can go to Wall Street through Brooklyn and half the trains to Penn Station, change in Woodside for Grand Central. Change in Flushing for the existing Roosevelt Ave El or the Northern Blvd El that gets built to relieve crowding on Roosevelt Ave. Finagle it the right way it’s 8 trains an hour to New England northeast of Bridgeport with two super expresses from the Suffolk County portion of the Main line and two super expresses to the Montauk branch, change in Farmindale for Hicksville, Mineola and Garden City. A stop at Union Turnpike might be good, Skim some of the people schlepping on a bus to there to take the subway to Manhattan would be a bit of relief for the Queens Blvd lines.

    • Eric2

      If there isn’t capacity in the tunnels to Manhattan, then rather than terminating the trains at Willets Point, they should run to Woodside and terminate there. This would provide much better transfers (an infill station at Broadway/Elmhurst Ave would provide yet another transfer).

      • Stephen Bauman

        There are existing spare tracks and platforms at the existing LIRR Willets Point station for reversing direction, and the long dwell times for loading/unloading at the transfer. No such real estate exists at the Woodside LIRR station. The only transfer at Woodside is to other LIRR trains or to the #7 Flushing line – the same line that’s at the LIRR’s Willets Point station. Both are express stops. Additional subway trains can be turned at Willets Point and there’s a rarely used platform available to facilitate transfers between subway and LIRR. The Flushing Line’s Woodside station is a through station without a reversing capability. The existing platforms at Woodside (both LIRR and subway) are narrow island platforms.

        The need for an infill LIRR station at Broadway/Elmhurst Ave is greatly exaggerated. It’s on top of the Queens Blv Line’s Elmhurst Ave stop. The 50% of Queens residents who are not within walking distance of a subway stop should have a higher priority for new stations.

        • Eric2

          Woodside itself is constrained. But 700m west of Woodside, at the curve, there is room for a pocket track to accommodate reversing trains.

          “The need for an infill LIRR station at Broadway/Elmhurst Ave is greatly exaggerated.” – I don’t know about need, but when trains are already running there, it’s stupid not to add one more infill stop with a subway transfer, any subway transfer.

          ” The 50% of Queens residents who are not within walking distance of a subway stop should have a higher priority for new stations.” – none of them live adjacent to the Port Washington line, except east of Flushing where Port Washington stops are already closely spaced.

        • Henry

          Willets Point and Woodside both only connect to other LIRR trains, sure, but Woodside has both Main Line locals and Port Washington trains, and Willets Point has only Port Washington trains.

          Terminating some LIRR at Willets Point is stupid for the same reasons that AirTrain to Willets Point is stupid.

        • adirondacker12800

          If people have to take the bus to the LIRR station and then hike across the parking lots at CitiField/Willets Point. the LIRR station is not next to the subway, they’ll just continue to take the bus to Flushing and get on the subway there. Go to Woodside it might actually lure some of them off the overcrowded subway.

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