What to Know
- New data shows LIRR service has gotten worse over the past year, with delays and cancellations more than doubling
- The head of the MTA acknowledge that service has gotten worse as he testified under oath in Albany
- MTA officials have suggested a LIRR action plan like the subway action plan put in place to improve subway service
Service on the Long Island Rail Road has gotten markedly worse over the past year, so much so that MTA officials are discussing the possibility of a railroad action plan similar to the subway action plan put in place to fix service in the aging subway.
State lawmakers on Thursday grilled the head of the MTA, which has come under withering criticism for its operation of the region’s beleaguered transit system.
While testing in Albany under oath, MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota assured legislators that an $836 million plan launched last summer to fix the city's subway service "is starting to show better results."
But Lhota testified that while the subways are showing signs of stabilization, he wasn't pleased with service problems on the LIRR.
“I am not happy with it,” Lhota said. “I have gone out to the island, I have been on the LIRR myself.”
Lhota acknowledged the accuracy of new data released by State Senator Todd Kaminsky, showing delays and cancellations climbed 237 percent over the course of a year: There were 81 delays and cancellations from October 2016 to January 2017, a number that rose to 273 from October 2017 to January 2018.
Lhota intensified pressure on LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski to get the job done. Nowakowski acknowledged that the last two months have been a service disaster.
Meanwhile, commuters like Nicole Angeles, of Ronkonkoma, say they dread getting on the train. Angeles say she’s tired of spending hundreds of dollars per month on a LIRR ticket that makes her late for her job as a nurse at NYU Medical Center “a majority of the time.”
“The morning time is probably the worst time to get on the train,” Angeles said. “I don’t even want to half the time. I want to drive, but you can’t drive either. So you really don’t win, and I think it’s gotten worse over the past year.”
The hearing before Senate and Assembly lawmakers comes as Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio continue to squabble over capital funding for the MTA. Cuomo's budget plan includes $9.7 billion for the departments of transportation and Motor Vehicles, the Thruway Authority and the MTA.