Pros: With its connection to the 7 subway line, Hunterspoint Avenue is already a popular destination for commuters heading to Manhattan’s East Side. Riders will have another option to and from the station this summer, as the LIRR plans to operate a ferry to and from 34th Street in Manhattan from the nearby NYC Ferry Hunterspoint South terminal.
The spacious “double decker” coaches that the LIRR typically operates at the station are among the roomiest and most comfortable in the LIRR’s fleet. The LIRR is also reducing fares for Hunterspoint Avenue by an average of 25 percent this summer.
Cons: The biggest drawback to commuting to and from Hunterspoint Avenue is the lack of trains. Even during summer months, when the LIRR is adding service at the station, trains will run only during the rush hours at Hunterspoint Avenue — from about 6 a.m. to about 9 a.m. and from about 3:30 p.m. to about 7 p.m. If you travel on a reduced fare to the station this summer, but miss the last train out of Hunterspoint Avenue, you’ll have to pay the difference between a Zone 1 and Zone 3 fare if you travel out of Penn Station instead.
As a station, the century-old Hunterspoint Avenue is pretty bare-bones. There’s one platform and a pair of worn staircases on either end. The 7 train station, while nearby, is not directly connected and commuters could wait in lines to get into the station.
To supplement its train service this summer, the MTA is offering ferry service at no extra cost from the newly built ferry terminal at Glen Cove and from the existing NYC Ferry terminal at Hunterspoint South at Long Island City. At Glen Cove, the ferries will take riders to and from 34th Street or Wall Street. From Long Island City, the ferries will go to and from 34th Street.
Pros: The Glen Cove ferry could be an especially good option for commuters living along the Oyster Bay line, especially those working in lower Manhattan, which will have direct ferry service. Generally speaking, ferries could be more pleasant and picturesque than other modes of travel, especially on a nice summer day. The Long Island City terminal is a short walk from the LIRR’s Long Island City station.
Cons: It remains to be seen whether the new ferries will have enough capacity to meet demand. The MTA says, in total, the ferries will be able to accommodate 2,300 people. But only 350 parking spaces will be available at Glen Cove, which will have two ferry departures each morning. At Long Island City, customers will have to take a shuttle bus to connect to the LIRR’s Hunterspoint Avenue station.
The travel time on the ferries, which will only operate during the rush hours, could also be unpredictable. The MTA says the Glen Cove ferries rides will take from 50 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes.
During rush hours, LIRR customers can ride, at no extra charge, express buses between eight designated locations on Long Island — Belmont Park, the Valley Stream LIRR station, Roosevelt Field, the Nassau Coliseum, the Seaford LIRR station, Bethpage State Park, North Hempstead Beach Park and the Melville Park & Ride — and three in Manhattan — at East 34th Street near the Midtown Tunnel, at West 34th near Penn Station, and near Grand Central Terminal.
The MTA is making 200 buses available for the effort, including from its own fleet and from two New Jersey-based coach operators.
Pros: For those in no rush to get to work or back home, the buses — especially those provided by two vendors, Coach USA and Academy Bus — should provide a roomy and comfortable ride during hot summer days. And for those taking the buses to or from western Nassau locations, such as Valley Stream and Belmont Park, the trip might not be all that long.
To minimize travel times, the buses will travel in the HOV lanes of the Long Island Expressway and the Queens Midtown Tunnel. The MTA is also offering free Taste of NY snacks and refreshments at the eight bus locations on Long Island.
Cons: The MTA says travel times will range from 71 minutes to 103 minutes, depending on distance. But, because the buses will have to navigate traffic along with every other vehicle, there’s no telling how long actual travel times will be, and they could be quite long, especially for those traveling to and from Melville.
And although the MTA has set aside parking at some of the Long Island locations, it could be quite crowded at others, including the Valley Stream LIRR station and the Melville Park & Ride. There’s been no parking set aside at the Seaford LIRR station, which MTA officials are calling a “kiss and ride” drop-off/pickup spot.
The MTA is encouraging commuters to take advantage of its subway system this summer, while service is reduced at Penn Station.
Pros: With nearly 500 stations in the New York City Transit system, there’s no shortage of options for commuters looking to get around. In the mornings, the LIRR will offer free transfers at Jamaica, Atlantic Terminal and Hunterspoint Avenue, which all connect to subway lines serving Manhattan.
To help ensure that there’s enough capacity on trains, the MTA says it will bolster subway service at LIRR stations during scheduled LIRR arrival times. The MTA, which moves 1.6 million people each morning by subway, says even if every impacted LIRR rider took a subway, it would add less than 1 percent to the system’s ridership.
Cons: Like the LIRR, the city’s subway system has faced numerous challenges in recent months, both because of record-high ridership and aging infrastructure. Delays caused by overcrowding have increased substantially in recent months. The crowding and long waits for trains may be especially treacherous in the summer months, when the underground stations tend to be oppressively uncomfortable.
The lines to get into subway stations at major LIRR transfer points, such as at Jamaica and Hunterspoint Avenue, could also be particularly long this summer. And, largely for logistical reasons, the MTA is not cross-honoring LIRR tickets in the evening. So, if you don’t have a MetroCard, you’ll have to pay to ride the subway on your way home.
Customers looking to avoid public transportation altogether could opt to drive to work this summer.
Pros: There’s nothing like the comfort of your own car. Blast the stereo, and the air conditioner, and choose the best route. The MTA and New York State Department of Transportation are taking several steps to reduce traffic on the roads this summer, including by expediting several construction projects on the MTA’s bridges and tunnels with the goal of finishing them by July 8, and suspending other road work or moving it to overnight hours.
The implementation of cashless tolling at some major crossings, including the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, has helped. To further ease traffic, the MTA is offering 50 percent discounts for trucks that cross tolls during overnight hours.
Cons: New York traffic is among the worst in the nation, and there’s pretty much no avoiding it if you’re driving to and from Manhattan. The extra LIRR commuters who take to the roads, and the 200 express buses that the MTA will operate to serve railroad commuters, will only add to the congestion.
The MTA and state DOT say they’ll be closely enforcing the rules of the road, including HOV regulations, throughout the summer. Then there’s the matter of finding, and paying for, parking in Manhattan. A garage there could cost in the neighborhood of $500 a month.