East Side Access Enables One-Ticket Rides from Montauk to Poughkeepsie

East Side Access
The MTA finally conceded that Grand Central Madison will not fully open to passengers this year. (Photo by Dean Moses)

The debut of Grand Central Madison, as the Long Island Rail Road’s new Manhattan station is called, will enable passenger travel from the East End to the Hudson Valley with one ticket.

The pilot program, called the “Combo Ticket,” allows riders taking trips that involve transferring from the LIRR to Metro-North Railroad or vice versa to buy one discounted ticket instead of paying two separate fares.

“Riders choose their origination station with Grand Central as their destination and pay the regular fare plus a flat rate of $8 for a continuing trip to any destination on the other railroad,” the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said in a news release.

The $11 billion project connecting the LIRR to Grand Central — the first extension of the nation’s busiest commuter railroad in more than a century — has been plagued with delays, but service is expected to officially begin in early 2023.

Before the new 750,000-square-foot station opens, train passengers traveling between Long Island and New York City’s northern suburbs had to either take Subways, taxis or walk about a mile between Penn Station and Grand Central. Instead, riders using both the LIRR and Metro North will just have to walk from one train platform to another at Grand Central.

Limited service to Grand Central is expected to begin in the coming weeks with shuttles between Jamaica before the schedule of direct trains becomes available.

“Customers who are curious about the new terminal will be able to try it out, and we hope anyone who wants to will come take a look at the impressive new space,” said Catherine Rinaldi, who is interim president of the LIRR and president of Metro-North Railroad.