Apr. 21, 2023 By Robert Pozarycki
The Mets-Willets Point station on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) in Queens will now be open to passengers beyond Mets home games, the U.S. Open and special events at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
The LIRR announced Friday that it is restoring 24/7, year-round service to the station on the Port Washington branch beginning this Monday, April 24. It’s an effort not only to get more sports fans to “take the train to the game,” but also for residents in nearby Queens communities (such as Flushing and Corona) to have another public transportation option rather than relying on the usually-crowded 7 line.
Previously, the LIRR provided 24/7 service at Mets-Willets Point during the COVID-19 pandemic to help New Yorkers reach the testing and vaccination sites at Citi Field, but the service ended as those sites closed. But when the station was open, customers provided feedback to the LIRR that they appreciated having the station available to them for regular commuting.
MTA interim LIRR President (and Metro-North Rail Road President) Cathy Rinaldi added that the service’s restoration will also help the LIRR deliver more eco-friendly ways for local residents to get around.
“With Earth Day right around the corner, we are excited to expand our eco-friendly footprint and offer customers more sustainable, convenient options to travel, whether to games, concerts, work or other activities,” said Rinaldi. “The additional Mets-Willets Point service implemented during the pandemic provided an alternative mass transit option to Flushing, one of the most vibrant and diverse communities in the entire city, and we are pleased to be able to give people traveling to and from this area more opportunities to use the LIRR.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards agreed with that sentiment, adding that the 24/7 service at Mets-Willets Point also helps lay the groundwork for the upcoming redevelopment of the “Iron Triangle” into a residential and commercial community. Last November, Mayor Eric Adams unveiled an historic plan for the transformation of Willets Point, across 126th Street, into a neighborhood featuring 2,500 affordable housing units, a 250-room hotel and its centerpiece, a 25,000-seat stadium for the New York City Football Club (NYCFC), which currently splits their home schedule between Citi Field and Yankee Stadium.
“24/7 LIRR service to Mets-Willets Point will strongly benefit Queens residents looking for a convenient and environmentally friendly way to get around, especially as the planned holistic redevelopment of Willets Point gets underway,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “With much of Queens in a transit desert with limited to no access to subways, it’s great that the LIRR is able to offer enhanced service along its existing rail network.”
Joining them in announcing the new service at Mets-Willets Point is the baseball club’s owner, chairman and CEO, Steve Cohen, who heralded the LIRR as the “easy and convenient way” for Mets fans to get to home games.
“We are thrilled that MTA is expanding Long Island Rail Road service at Citi Field,” said Cohen. “This expansion of service supports our organization’s vision to have safe and accessible transportation options for our fans, employees and the wider Queens community.”
Starting on April 24, the LIRR will operate half-hour service at Mets-Willets Point during most periods, with more frequent service offered during the morning and evening rush hours. The LIRR will run extra trains, as needed, after major events at Citi Field, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (home of the U.S. Open) and Flushing Meadows Corona Park (extra trains will not be advertised on any schedule in advance).
An MTA spokesperson said the trains making the extra stop at Mets-Willets Point will add no more than two minutes to their schedule. Additionally, the service comes at no extra financial cost to the LIRR.
During peak periods on weekdays, eight of 15 westbound trains between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. will not stop at Mets-Willets Point; conversely, six of 20 eastbound trains will skip the stop between 4:30 and 8:30 p.m.
The LIRR also helps keep the cost of commuting through New York City down through City Tickets sold during off-peak hours. For just $5 per rider, a City Ticket holder can travel between any two LIRR stations in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.
Commuters can connect from the Mets-Willets Point to the 7 line via a short walk. The 7 line also connects to the E, F, M and R trains at the 74th Street-Broadway/Roosevelt Avenue station in Jackson Heights, and the N and W trains at Queensboro Plaza. More than a dozen different bus lines also connect to the 7 train along its route.