New York

MTA Announces Summer LIRR Schedule as Frustrated Commuters Say They Plan to Sue

New trains and cars will be added during peak rush times, but 17 fewer trains will leave NY Penn during the evening rush

What to Know

  • Some commuters frustrated by constant LIRR delays say they plan to file a lawsuit against the MTA
  • Transit data analyzed by the Wall Street Journal show evening rush-hour cancellations and delays on the LIRR are the worst in 10 years
  • The subways haven't been much better, with signal problems, mechanical breakdowns and power outages wreaking havoc on commutes

The MTA has announced its long-awaited summer schedule for Long Island Rail Road riders facing Amtrak-related service disruptions at New York's Penn Station.

The sweeping plan will include adding new trains during peak rush hour, enabling the transit agency to accommodate 9,600 people, and canceling some rush hour and overnight trains. The MTA will also add 36 more cars to scheduled trains to alleviate overcrowding during rush hour.

Some rush hour service will be lessened, though. Eighty-seven LIRR trains leave Penn Station during each weekday evening rush; that will be reduced to 70 for the summer. Seven of those 17 trains will be cancelled and the other ten will be diverted to other stations. Three of the diverted trains will originate at Atlantic Terminal, three at Hunterspoint Avenue and four at Jamaica.

Three overnight trains that run between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. will be canceled, but the MTA says those cancellations are only expected to affect about 90 riders. The MTA also plans to add ferries from Glen Cove and Long Island City and bus service from park-and-ride spots on the Long Island Expressway during rush hours, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. There initially were eight park-and-ride stops, but the MTA said on Day 3 of the overhaul that it was scaling it back to five because of underutilization. Updated guide here.

The transit agency that runs the LIRR, along with city subways, has been beleaguered by complaints from fed-up riders for months now, including some who said over the weekend they planned to file a class action lawsuit alleging emotional distress and negligence. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages along with reimbursement of monthly LIRR passes for May.

The transit agency hasn't commented on the planned lawsuit. Agencies typically say they need time to review the material once the suit has been filed. 

The lawsuit comes as evening rush-hour cancellations and delays on the LIRR have reached their highest level in 10 years, according to transit data analyzed by the Wall Street Journal. And even at Monday's media briefing, a TV screen behind the MTA's interim executive director had a banner at the bottom that read, "People have had enough. Dozens of weekly delays from stalled trains and system breakdowns have rippling consequences for the entire region." 

Despite the MTA's best efforts to add more rush-hour options for the anticipated summer congestion, things may get worse. Commuters on the LIRR and NJ Transit have been warned to anticipate what Gov. Cuomo has called "a summer of hell" because of Amtrak work to overhaul the infrastructure at Penn Station.

The LIRR operates on about 3 miles of Amtrak-owned property into and out of Penn Station. The work is slated to start July 7 and wrap up before Labor Day. NJ Transit previously announced its summer plan. 

Anticipated LIRR changes will likely mean more subway rides for LIRR commuters, but the city's subway system has been plagued by its own problems as of late, including signal issues, mechanical breakdowns and power outages that, in one case, stranded riders on an air condition-less car for an hour

Such problems were evident yet again Monday, with a rail condition between Queensboro Plaza and Lexington Avenue causing problems and delays on nine subway lines for hours, beginning in the middle of the morning rush.  

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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