Theres a new way to get to JFK from Midtown

There’s a new way to get to JFK from Midtown Manhattan for $13

Seasoned budget travelers know that one of the cheapest ways to travel to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) is via the Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station. However, for those who live or work on Manhattan’s East Side, commuting to Penn Station and then JFK can be a chore.

Fortunately, for some, that trek will soon be gone: The Metropolitan Transit Authority plans to launch LIRR service from the new Grand Central Madison Station, located below Grand Central Terminal, to Jamaica, Queens, on January 25. The Jamaica station is about 15 minutes away from JFK via the AirTrain.

This new service is in addition to Penn Station’s existing trains.

The first train is scheduled to depart Jamaica at 10:45 am and arrive in Grand Central Madison at 11:07 am. For at least the next three weeks, the MTA said it plans to offer limited service between Jamaica and Grand Central Madison so passengers can familiarize themselves with the new terminal.


During this trial period, customers can use Penn Station tickets to ride Grand Central Madison’s LIRR, according to the MTA.

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General views of Grand Central Madison on Thursday, December 29, 2022. MARC A. HERMANN/MTA

The trains will initially run from 6:15 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. Trains run between Grand Central Madison and Jamaica every 30 minutes on weekday lunchtimes and weekends. Trains also run hourly during peak hours. MTA said it will likely increase frequencies after launch, though they didn’t reveal any further details.

TPG’s Scott Mayerowitz found that you can get to Jamaica Station from downtown Manhattan in just 21 minutes.

yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7Grand Central to Jamaica in just 21 minutes. MTA

The MTA eventually plans to launch full LIRR service from Grand Central Madison to Jamaica, hoping to increase overall LIRR service by 41%.

The new route can cost up to $15.75 each way.

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An off-peak LIRR city ticket from Grand Central to Jamaica is $7.75 and the AirTrain from Jamaica to the airport terminals is an additional $8 if you already have an MTA MetroCard. It’s an additional $1 to purchase a rechargeable MetroCard for those without it.

yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7Rates as low as $5 off peak for new services. MTA

During peak hours, the LIRR fare increases to $10.75, bringing the price of the entire trip to $18.75.


Grand Central Madison’s LIRR service offers an affordable alternative way to travel to JFK for those living on or near Manhattan’s East Side.

To save time, many New York residents take Uber or Lyft to JFK, but these services can cost $100 or even more.

yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7An Uber ride from JFK to Manhattan’s West Side in 2022. UBER

Taxis start at $74 for a flat fee; However, tips and tolls can easily push the price up to $100.

yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7Taxi prices at the airport in New York City. NYC.GOV

The other problem with commuting by car is traffic. On a good day, you can reach JFK in just 35-40 minutes, but throw in NYC’s notorious traffic and you could see up to an hour and a half.

Before the new option, you would have to take either a subway or a bus to Penn Station and then take the LIRR to Jamaica — a time-consuming and arduous journey, depending on where you’re coming from. Such a route could easily add more than half an hour to the journey.

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General views of Grand Central Madison on Thursday, December 29, 2022. MARC A. HERMANN/MTA

News of the LIRR’s debut at Grand Central Madison was met with much fanfare. About an hour before the first train from Grand Central Madison to Jamaica, Queens departed, passers-by waited in the station’s dining hall near Luke’s Lobster, waiting for the MTA to officially open the red gates to the LIRR’s newest terminal.

When the gates to Grand Central Madison officially opened at around 11:00 a.m., the crowd cheered and everyone poured into the brand new terminal. LIRR Customer Ambassadors distributed memorabilia such as pins, baseball caps and stickers to attendees. And those who caught the first train from Jamaica to Grand Central Madison at 10:45 a.m. received “gold tickets” for the first train ride to the new terminal.

Seas of phones recording Grand Central Madison flooded the halls as visitors snapped selfies, with some exclaiming enthusiastically that they felt they were seeing history.

MTA officials such as Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul also attended the grand opening of Grand Central Madison. Hochul noted that the project would better connect millions of Long Islanders to New York City, as the MTA estimates that about 45% of LIRR commuters will now head to Grand Central instead of Penn Station.

“Infrastructure is all about connections, and this project is an extraordinary step forward to better connect millions of New Yorkers to home, family and work,” Hochul said in a press release.

Penelope Weinhart, a realtor, visited New York City from Atlanta and took the first train from Grand Central Madison to catch the AirTrain to JFK from Jamaica Station. She said she was initially unaware of Grand Central Madison’s LIRR service, but then decided to take the train to Jamaica when she heard the news.

“It’s kind of exciting,” Weinhart said. “We didn’t even know … it just happened.”

Taking the train to Jamaica and then the AirTrain to JFK was a seamless process. While Grand Central Madison itself was fairly crowded, Queens’ first LIRR to Jamaica wasn’t. The platform signs in the new terminal were easy to find — the Metro North app and Grand Central Madison timetables updated the platform information accordingly.

The first train to Jamaica was scheduled to leave at 11:59 p.m., but was about two minutes late. As the train pulled away, the passengers cheered enthusiastically. The train also made stops at Woodside, Forrest Hills and Kew Gardens before landing in Jamaica. Although this was the first train to depart from Grand Central Madison, it felt like this route had been traveled a million times—there were no hiccups.

From Grand Central Madison, the train took about 25 minutes to reach Jamaica. When the train stopped in Jamaica, it didn’t take long to locate the AirTrain as it was easy to spot the bright yellow signs pointing to the AirTrain. The only issue with riding the AirTrain was that it required an MTA card, which feels outdated considering New York City’s subways now all take Apple Pay.

But the Grand Central Madison to Jamaica train has proven to be not only an affordable, but also an easy alternative to reaching JFK for residents of East Side Manhattan. Trains arrived on time and each train journey to and from Jamaica took no more than 30 minutes – otherwise the journey from Manhattan to JFK can easily take over an hour in traffic.

The long-awaited grand opening of Grand Central Madison came as construction delays and financial woes stymied the project for decades. Construction of Grand Central Madison, also known as the East Side Access Station project, began in the 1960s. However, rising costs and a city-wide financial crisis quickly caused New York City to halt construction.

Construction then resumed in the 1990s, but construction delays, mismanagement, and cost overruns stalled the project. The MTA originally planned to open the new terminal by the end of 2022, but when an area of ​​the terminal needed “additional work,” it pushed back the date.

According to the Gothamist, the MTA tested 40 empty trains to and from the brand new station last week.

There is also a separate entrance to the new train station. As the name suggests, you can enter the building through separate entrances from Madison Avenue. (In fact, the actual entrances are on Vanderbilt Avenue and East 43rd, East 44th, East 45th, East 46th, East 47th, and East 48th Streets.)


The construction of the sprawling Grand Central Madison terminal cost around 11 billion US dollars and is one of the largest transport infrastructure projects in the USA in recent years. Grand Central Madison also represents the first expansion of the LIRR in 100 years.