Going to the Belmont Park race track during the summer is one of my favorite things to do in the city. It's so simple. Just jump on the LIRR -- the Belmont Special or, as some people I know call it, the Pony Express -- at Penn Station for the 30-minute ride to the park in Elmont. It feels as if you're hundreds of miles from the city. It's a classic, old-school track. The track opened in 1905.
I can go on, but.... Acccording to the AP, as part of the state's budget cuts, the LIRR will discontinue service to the track at the end of this month, when racing resumes. However, the train will run on June 6 for the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown. The one day you don't won't to get stuck on a train (or anywhere) with 75,000 yahoos.
While cuts are necessary, it seems odd to target this route -- especially when the state is counting on more revenue from the park for its budget.
In any event, there are other public transporation options...
Q110 (MTA Bus):
Service provided every 20 minutes to and from Belmont during racing days. Buses are available at Parsons Blvd. and Hillside Avenue and from Parsons Blvd. & Archer Ave., and various locations eastbound on Jamaica Avenue and Hempstead Avenue in Queens. These buses pick up and discharge directly outside the admission booths at the west end of the track. Connections: Transfer from F Train at Parsons & Hillside; Transfer from E Train at Parsons & Archer.
Q2 (MTA Bus):
Originates at the Jamaica Bus Terminal (165th Street & 89th Ave.) and runs along Hillside Ave. to 187th Place to Hollis Ave. and ends at Hempstead Ave. and 225th Street adjacent to Belmont Park. Connections: Transfer from F Train at 169th Street or 179th Street stations.
Here's in part what the New York Racing Association had to say about the (at the time, proposed) cut in service:
While the New York Racing Association (NYRA) recognizes that the MTA needs to balance its budget, no other proposed service cut so directly affects one business, one employer, one industry as does the proposal to eliminate LIRR service to Belmont Park (except for Belmont Stakes day).
For more than a century, the railroad has brought fans to Belmont Park, a 445-acre landmark on the Queens-Nassau County line, bringing patrons from the most mass-transit dependent population in the nation to one of the best known sporting venues in the world.
And here are the old tokens the LIRR used for service to Belmont (circa 1972):
[Belmont Park photo via WallyG's Flickr account]