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LIRR Riders Will Get New Alternatives to NYC During Penn Station Makeover, Cuomo Announces

What to Know

  • Gov. Cuomo is expected to announce a plan Tuesday to help LIRR riders during the six-week overhaul at Penn Station this summer
  • LIRR riders were expected to take morning trains through Jamaica, Hunters Point or Atlantic Terminal during the Penn Station overhaul
  • Amtrak hasn't released an exact timetable for the work at Penn Station yet

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a wide-ranging transportation plan aimed at helping Long Island Rail Road riders who will be affected by the six-week Penn Station overhaul this summer. 

Among the alternatives that will be offered to impacted LIRR commuters are a high-speed ferry service, the addition of several park-and-ride sites along the Long Island Expressway where drivers can carpool and get free tolls, free buses from Nassau and Suffolk and the addition of new HOV lanes, Cuomo announced at a news conference Tuesday.

While Amtrak, which owns and leases at Penn Station, hasn't yet released an exact timetable for the summer work, the MTA has already said that many LIRR riders should anticipate taking their morning trains through Jamaica, Hunters Point or Atlantic Terminal instead of Penn Station when the work begins. 

LIRR President Pat Nowakowski said Monday they'll try to "maximize" service during the summer overhaul, but a number of peak-hour trains will be affected. Off-peak LIRR trains won't be affected by the reconstruction, he said.

Amtrak, the owner and landlord of Penn Station, announced earlier in the month that it's finally getting around to fixing tracks and switches that have been crumbling for years. The overhaul will cut down service for both LIRR and New Jersey Transit commuters for six weeks. 

LIRR riders Tuesday said they appreciate the alternatives presented by Cuomo but many plan to keep riding the rails and hope for the best instead of relying on buses, boats and carpools.

"I'm gonna have to take my chances," said Tasha Baptise of Islip. "Driving? Gas? Coming in on the L.I.E. is time-consuming." 

"I guess it could help but if you're used to what you're used to, it's a big change," said Brenda Post of Port Washington. 

Cuomo says he's formed a task force focused on fixing Penn Station and transportation infrastructure at large. 

"The intolerable state of disrepair in Penn Station and its ripple effect of delays and dysfunction throughout the subway system have reached a breaking point," he said in a statement. "After decades of neglect, it's time to seize the opportunity to make real changes to our transportation system." 

Cuomo wants the task force to consider three options addressing the rail issues at Penn Station: for New York state to take it over; for the Port Authority to take it over; or for Amtrak to use a private contractor to operate Penn Station.

Gov. Christie in New Jersey, meanwhile, announced Tuesday that riders on the Morris & Essex Midtown Direct line will be diverted to Hoboken during the project; from there, they'll be able to transfer for free to the PATH or the ferry.

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