Summer may be coming to a close, but weekend deals on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad will keep on going. Building off the Summer Saturdays program, the railroads are jointly announcing the start of Autumn Weekends, which provides riders an affordable way to get out of the house, out of their cars, and onto the train for weekend trips.
The fall program, set to start Saturday, September 11, 2021, and run through Sunday, November 21, 2021, follows the same guidelines of its summer program predecessor – with one big exception. Instead of limiting the program to Saturdays only, the fall program will now be available on both Saturdays and Sundays. The LIRR and Metro-North will honor all monthly tickets for travel on weekends to and from all LIRR and Metro-North stations, regardless of the stations printed on the ticket. Additionally, monthly ticketholders traveling on those weekend days will be able to bring up to four additional travelers for only $1.00 per person each way. Please note, however, that LIRR tickets are only valid for travel on LIRR, and Metro-North tickets are only valid for travel on Metro-North.
Under the program, a Metro-North customer with a monthly ticket valid between New Haven and Grand Central could ride along Metro-North’s Hudson Line to catch the fall foliage at no additional cost. Likewise, LIRR customers with a monthly ticket, regardless of zone, will find their tickets honored systemwide to and from all LIRR stations – between Penn Station and Atlantic Terminal, and as far away as Montauk to enjoy fall at East End wineries and farms.
“Autumn Weekends is our ‘thank you’ to our loyal monthly customers, many of whom have been riding throughout the pandemic, helping us to bring back New York, Long Island and the way of life we all enjoy,” said Phil Eng, President of Long Island Rail Road. “We encourage folks to explore all the world-class attractions and destinations our region has to offer by taking advantage of Autumn Weekends, which provides an opportunity for fun, affordable day trips for our monthly customers and their loved ones as we support our local businesses and communities.”
“One notable ridership trend since the pandemic began has been customers using Metro-North for leisure travel. Autumn Weekends is an added incentive for our monthly ticketholders to keep that trend alive and see the gorgeous fall foliage and outdoor destinations with friends and family,” said Catherine Rinaldi, President of Metro-North Railroad. “Ditch the car, hop on the train, and bring your family along for the ride.”
The LIRR launched Autumn Weekends as a pilot program in 2018. The pilot was well-received by customers with tens of thousands of participants. Metro-North is adopting the program this year to encourage its monthly customers to take advantage of popular fall destinations throughout the region.
Metro-North restored weekend service to 100% of its pre-pandemic levels on August 29, 2021 as weekend ridership at large has recovered faster than weekday ridership. In the spring, weekend ridership grew to around 60-70% of pre-pandemic levels and remains around 50% of pre-pandemic levels.
LIRR ridership has gradually increased this year, with Saturday and Sunday ridership growing faster than weekdays, especially during the summer months. LIRR summer weekend ridership is around 60% compared to the average pre-pandemic ridership in 2019.
Today’s announcement is part of the MTA’s ongoing efforts to welcome New Yorkers back to the system. In May, the MTA launched its #TakeTheTrain, #TakeTheBus campaign which launched in conjunction with 24/7 subway service resuming for the first time since May 06, 2020. The goal of the campaign is to encourage New Yorkers to return to a more reliable, cleaner system than the one many last used before the pandemic arrived in New York.
As part of that campaign, LIRR and Metro-North have introduced getaway deals over the summer, including the Summer Saturdays program to encourage monthly customers to take the train on Saturdays for leisure travel.
The welcome back efforts coincide with the MTA’s commitment to the cleaning and disinfecting protocols undertaken since the onset of the CoViD-19 pandemic, ensuring that the system is as safe as possible for its customers. MTA supplemented the protocols with robust public education campaigns and has distributed millions of masks to its customers.
Customers interested in receiving the CoViD-19 vaccine can stop by the MTA’s public vaccination hubs at Grand Central and Penn Station to receive a shot on the go. Under updated Transportation Security Administration regulations and CDC guidance, masks are no longer required on outdoor Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad stations and platforms; however, once a customer is inside a station or boards a train, masks are still required.
Service Advisory: LIRR Main Line Expansion Work September 11-12 and 18-19, 2021.
LIRR customers should be aware that the first two weekends of the program, September 11-12 and 18-19, 2021, switch work associated with the Main Line Expansion Project will be taking place. This critical infrastructure work will require both existing Main Line tracks to be taken out of service for 48 hours each weekend between New Hyde Park and Hicksville, resulting in service changes on the Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma Branches and schedule adjustments on the LIRR’s other branches.
There will be no train service to New Hyde Park, Merillon Avenue, Mineola, Carle Place, or Westbury. All service to and from Bethpage Station will provided by the shuttle trains between Babylon and Hicksville. NICE buses will cross-honor LIRR tickets. Between 12:00 a.m. and 05:00 a.m., buses provided by the LIRR will stop at Mineola and Hicksville as an alternative for customers at these two stations when NICE buses are unavailable. Oyster Bay Branch trains will connect at East Williston for buses providing service to Hempstead for enhanced connecting train service every 30 minutes.
The LIRR urges customers to download and use the revamped LIRR TrainTime app, the best source of up-to-date and real-time train information including the new chat function that LIRR customers can use to chat in real-time directly with LIRR customer service staff. The app is available for a free download on both iOS Apple devices and Android.