LIRR To Limit Service to NYC Marathon

By Greg Cergol
|  Tuesday, Sep 28, 2010  |  Updated 7:46 PM EDT
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LIRR To Limit Service to NYC Marathon

If Sen. Schumer gets his way, some commuters will be able to work as they go.

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Sue Fitzpatrick makes the trip by train from Dix Hills every year to cheer on friends -- but, this year, getting to the New York City Marathon on Nov. 7 may be harder than the race itself.

LIRR train service will be "extremely" limited on race day, as the railroad finishes a project to modernize its outdated signal and switching system in Jamaica - the same system that caught fire last month, limiting and delaying LIRR service for days.

Only three trains will operate each hour between Jamaica and Penn Station on Marathon Sunday, according to the LIRR. That's two-thirds fewer trains than on a normal weekend.

In fact, the railroad is urging that only people conducting "essential business," like police and firefighters use the trains that day.

"It seems like there was no forethought about this," said Fitzpatrick, herself a long time runner.

"This is going to upset a lot of people," added Mike Polansky, president of the Greater Long Island Running Club.

Polansky's Plainview office has yet to receive frantic calls about the coming inconvenience.

"I just don't think people are aware of this yet," Polansky explained. "Why would the railroad do this on that weekend?"

"There is a small window of available weekends... to complete this critical work in Jamaica," said LIRR spokesman Sam Zambuto in a statement.

"Customers attending the NYC Marathon are advised to use  the Port Washington line or the E train between Penn Station and Jamaica."

Those close to the LIRR have indicated that ridership does not rise dramatically on NYC Marathon day; but images of millions lining city streets that day lead race participants and fans to think otherwise.

"The trains are always jammed on race day," said Dave Frazer, manager of the "Runner's Edge" store in Farmingdale. "It's going to be chaos without them."

Frazer organizes a yearly bus trip to the marathon for local runners; but, this year, he expects more buses will be needed and he's already trying to line them up.

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