Today, U.S. Reps. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Grace Meng (D-Queens) and NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst) joined MTA LIRR President Helena Williams to announce the commencement of a ridership survey to collect data from area residents to help determine the viability of reopening the Elmhurst LIRR station that was closed during the 1980s.
"As we continue to work with the LIRR to explore the possibility of restoring service to Elmhurst, I want to encourage as many members of our community to participate in the study and make sure their voices are heard," said Rep. Joe Crowley. "Reopening the Elmhurst Station will increase residents' access to Midtown Manhattan and help the area reach its economic potential. It will also open the door for all New Yorkers to experience the rich diversity and culture Elmhurst has to offer."
"Reopening this LIRR station would be a huge boon for Elmhurst," said U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens). "It would greatly benefit local residents with increased access to public transportation and service to Manhattan, and it would provide a major economic boost for local businesses. I thank the LIRR for moving forward with its study, and I urge all area residents to participate in this important ridership survey."
Crowley and Dromm initially called on LIRR to reopen the station in January 2012, a move will not only improve residents' access to Midtown Manhattan, but will help create jobs in the area. The officials led a walking tour of the site with officials from MTA to further explore the possibility of reopening the station in March 2012, followed by a town hall with residents a month later to discuss transportation issues within the community.
"Restoring LIRR service to Elmhurst is essential for the economic development of the area" said Council Member Dromm. "This survey is an important next step in the re-opening of this station. Elmhurst has exploded into a thriving neighborhood that is home to many new immigrants as well as a bustling immigrant business district. It is especially important that our immigrant population is aware of and responds to this survey. "
"This survey will be very important in helping us determine if there is sufficient demand in the Elmhurst community to consider reopening the station," said Helena Williams, LIRR President. "We urge residents to take a few minutes to fill it out. There are many issues that need to be carefully evaluated as part of this process but this is an important first step."
There will be two components to the month-long survey which will begin at the end of June. A written survey will be issued in English, Spanish and Mandarin and will be mailed to households within a half-mile radius of the station's site at Broadway and Whitney Avenue. The second component will be a survey conducted in person at strategically chosen sites including nearby subway stations and areas surrounding Elmhurst Hospital Center. Both will contain questions about what means of transportation residents currently use, their travel frequency, the mode of choice and how they might avail themselves of LIRR service.
"LIRR access offers a vital lifeline for Elmhurst and neighboring communities," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "Thanks to the leadership of Congress Members Crowley and Meng and Council Member Dromm, these communities are another step closer toward improving the scope of transportation choices for local residents and restoring the rail connection they need to grow and thrive."
The original station site, located on Broadway between Cornish and Whitney Avenues, was closed and demolished in 1985 due to a reported decrease in ridership following significant changes to train schedules that made the station unattractive to commuters. Since the station's closure, Elmhurst's growing population has suffered from a lack of efficient public transit into Manhattan.
At a time when funding for important transportation projects throughout the region is far scarcer than the demand, this project can be completed at a fraction of the cost of competing projects, which makes reopening Elmhurst Station an ideal candidate for consideration. Additionally, the increased capacity created by East Side Access will ease previous concerns that over congestion would occur at Penn Station by reopening this station.
According to the 2010 Census, Elmhurst and East Elmhurst are home to one of the most diverse populations in the country, a trend that will likely continue in the near future as the community continues to grow.