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Long Island Rail Road Riders Could Be in for ‘Summer of Agony' During Penn Station Overhaul

What to Know

  • LIRR riders will be asked to take their morning trains through Jamaica, Hunters Point or Atlantic Terminal during the Penn Station overhaul
  • From there, they'll have to take subways, which have had their own problems lately
  • Gov. Cuomo has requested federal help ahead of the six-week makeover, predicting a "summer of agony"

Many Long Island Rail Road riders will be asked to take their morning trains through Jamaica,  Hunters Point or Atlantic Terminal instead of Penn Station when Amtrak starts its infrastructure work there this summer, News 4 has learned. 

The MTA board said at a meeting Monday that the goal is to have Amtrak's full summer reconstruction schedule out by June 1. LIRR President Pat Nowakowski said they'll try to "maximize" service during the six-week overhaul, but a number of peak-hour trains will be affected. Off-peak LIRR trains won't be affected by the reconstruction, he said.

"It's our goal to run as much service as can into Penn," said Nowakowski. 

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. 

The news has commuters already dreading their summer commutes. Lisa McDonald of Massapequa Park said it would extend her already long commute, which she describes as "tired and frustrating." 

"We pay a lot of money to get on these trains," said Anthony Crawford of Baldwin. "I pay $297 for a monthly pass. It's just gonna inconvenience everybody." 

In cases where detoured LIRR commuters need to get to Penn Station directly, they would likely have to take subways, which have had their own problems lately.

"That assumes that subways will work and subway connections will be organized and well managed," said Wayne Trigg of Manhasset. "And based on past performance, they'll never be able to handle this. It's overload as it is." 

Over the weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote a letter to President Trump asking for federal help at Penn Station and predicting a "summer of agony."

In the letter, Cuomo called the deplorable conditions at Penn Station, which handles a daily flow of 600,000 passengers, an emergency that has "reached a tipping point." 

On Monday, the governor warned it could get worse, saying in a radio interview "this could lead to an overload point." 

He says federal money would help with short-term construction, transportation alternatives and the facilitation of a long-term resolution for Penn Station.

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