Conversion of the Belmont Park LIRR Station and other capital improvements may take between three to five years. Riders may just end up with off-peak shuttle service between the Jamaica and Belmont Park Stations.
The most difficult challenge will be trying to provide full-time rush hour evening service in both directions. This may not be possible until both East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal begins in 2023 and renovations to all four East River Tunnels are completed by 2032.
There is also the need for a bus terminal to accommodate Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE), NYC Transit and private charter bus operators who may establish new routes for serving Belmont Arena for the anticipated 18,000 fans attending hockey games.
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said earlier this year that his agency must first perform a planning study. Several months later, there is no evidence any planning study is under way.
He also said there is no current capacity at Penn Station to support new Belmont Park service.
Cuomo’s FY2019 budget of $168.2 billion contains no line item to provide additional funding for this project.
The non-existent dollars would have to be amended into the current MTA Five Year Capital Plan for supporting design and engineering, let alone construction of any future Belmont Park LIRR intermodal transportation center.
It may be many years for LIRR to provide new service to Belmont Park, especially during evening rush hours after the Islanders arena opens.
Larry Penner is a resident of Great Neck.