Monday, June 12, 2017

LIRR summer plan aims to take the heat off commuting during Penn Station repairs

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Workers repair tracks at New York Penn Station following a derailment in April 2017. Workers repair tracks at New York Penn Station following a derailment in April 2017. Amtrak

Amid widespread criticism and even a commuter lawsuit spawned by Amtrak’s planned repairs to New York Penn Station, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Monday released a plan to maintain Long Island Rail Road rush-hour commuter capacity to and from Manhattan and minimize delays for commuters.

The plan, developed in conjunction with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Penn Station Task Force, for the Amtrak repairs July 10 through at least Sept. 1, adds more rush-hour LIRR trains and more cars to existing trains; cross-honors LIRR tickets for subway, bus and ferry service, and cuts in half overnight bridge and tunnel tolls for trucks, to alleviate road congestion.

Soon after Amtrak this spring announced emergency repairs at Penn Station following two derailments that would take as many as three tracks out of service for the summer, Cuomo assembled the 13-member Task Force made up of politicians, civic leaders, and business people. Their plan comes amid a public outcry and high-profile debate over the deteriorating condition of Penn Station. Amtrak owns and manages the terminal, which is also used by the LIRR and New Jersey Transit.

On June 11, two commuters said they would file what they hope will become a class-action lawsuit against the MTA, LIRR and NYC Transit alleging breach of contract and negligence, among other things. Cuomo has said the planned track repairs would result in a “summer of hell” for commuters.

“As Amtrak conducts much-needed repairs at Penn Station this summer, we have been working hard to find a way to aggressively minimize the impact to LIRR commuters,” said MTA Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim. “We’re providing more rush-hour capacity to and from Manhattan by adding trains to the modified schedule, adding cars to existing trains, and creating a brand new bus and ferry network that adds thousands of seats.”

The MTA said that Amtrak’s repairs would have forced the LIRR to cancel or divert up to 15 trains that normally arrive at Penn Station during the morning rush period between 6-10 a.m., affecting approximately 9,600 customers. Now, the railroad will add three new trains into NYP, and 36 cars to additional Manhattan-bound trains.

To free up equipment, the LIRR is canceling three overnight trains from 2 a.m.-4 a.m., and providing supplemental bus service during that time.

The MTA is also creating a new bus and ferry network, free for LIRR monthly and weekly ticket holders, for rush-hour service to and from Long Island.






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