Commuters in Malverne want to go back to the good ol' days, circa 2009, when they could catch a 7:23 a.m. train from the village's station heading westbound before this popular service was cut by the Long Island Railroad.
Nearly 90 percent of commuters who responded to a survey conducted by the village of Malverne in late September said they favored bringing back the 7:23 a.m. weekday train. (Only 10.5 percent supported keeping the current schedule, in which the 7:23 a.m. was replaced with a 9:01 a.m. train.)
The village of Malverne has been in talks with NYS Assemblyman Brian Curran, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and LIRR officials for several months to bring back its 7:23 a.m. westbound train, as well as weekend service on the West Hempstead branch, which was cut entirely in 2010.
Speaking at the Oct. 3 village board meeting, Malverne Mayor Patricia Norris McDonald said the LIRR had asked the village to poll its commuters to see what they wanted before it made any changes to the current schedule.
"They weren't sure if people were used to the switch," she said.
Clearly, Malverne commuters have not forgotten what was taken away from them. When presented with a list of seven different morning train times, the 7:23 a.m. was singled about by 50.5 percent of respondents as the clear favorite.
"An overwhelming majority want the 7:23 am train back, which is wonderful," McDonald added. ""I will be calling the LIRR and letting them know that in the village of Malverne, our residents want to see the 7:23 a.m. train put back into the service." She's hoping to see the train restored in the coming months.
Although the vast majority (81.6 percent) of the 100 people who responded to the survey were Malverne residents, there were some commuters from West Hempstead, Lynbrook, Franklin Square and Valley Stream who filled out the short questionaire too. Obviously, if Malverne gets its 7:23 a.m. train back, it would be stopping at all the stations on the West Hempstead branch, which includes Westwood, West Hempstead, Lakeview and Hempstead Gardens.
Getting the weekend service back on the line could be more of a challenge.
"Everyone wants the weekend service back and we did discuss that, but it's always [about] the bottom line, the dollars," Mayor McDonald explained. "They are looking into trying to find resources to hopefully, eventually put back the weekend service."
She stated that the issue is not just about Saturday and Sunday service, but because LIRR reverts to a weekend schedule on holidays too, the trains also do not run on the West Hempstead line on Thanksgiving and Memorial Day, for instance, even though these are weekdays.
The LIRR is not overlooking the impact that West130, the new, "transit-oriented" 150-unit luxury apartment complex recently built near the West Hempstead station could have on the demand for service, McDonald explained. During a recent visit to the area, LIRR President Helena Williams told Patch, "I've been monitoring the development activity that's going on along the branch, because it's clear that as that development activity takes place and new residential housing is going in that there may be a greater demand for weekend service."
Williams said that the weekend service was cut in 2010 due to "low ridership," but stated "if we have the opportunity to grow the ridership, then we'll revisit the issue of weekend service."