Joye Brown has been a columnist for Newsday since 2006. She joined the newspaper in 1983 and has Show More
Hopes rose, no doubt higher than the early morning temperatures, on the Long Island Rail Road platform Monday when a voice from loudspeakers above said that trains to move passengers from Huntington Station to Penn Station, Hunters Point and Atlantic Terminal were on the way.
More specifically, at 5:28, 6:28, 6:50 and 7:19 a.m.
Not too much later, a voice — from LIRR offices in Jamaica Queens, a spokeswoman said yesterday — swatted such hopes away. “We apologize for the announcements,” the squawk boxes said. “Please do not listen to those.”
Say what, now?
The dialogue reads like a variation on a scene from “The Wizard of Oz,” when the Wizard says ignore what you see and be wowed by an illusion instead.
The announcements spared commuters the illusion that trains they’d been told to expect would be arriving anywhere close to earlier announced times. But the announcements also fed frustration about an already-trying commute.
Meredith Daniels, an LIRR spokeswoman, said the announcement was the LIRR attempting to give commuters up-to-date information — which, she said, changed repeatedly because of changing conditions and challenges in getting and keeping the LIRR running after Saturday’s monster snowstorm.
Daniels said that the LIRR constantly had notified commuters via texts, social media and other methods of delays, changes and branch shutdowns in the railroad’s morning rush-hour schedule.
OK. But what were commuters at the Huntington Station to make of an announcement they’d heard a few minutes earlier Monday morning?
First came word that a train would be going to Atlantic Terminal at 7:19.
Then came a voice from the speaker saying, “I do not have any train service.”
Commuters on the platforms, according to Newsday reporter Victor Ramos, shook their heads.
Was that because the remark about train service sounded like truth? A confession? A joke?
The Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council, a rider advocacy group, wasn’t laughing.
“The LIRRCC appreciates the considerable efforts of LIRR workers in restoring [post-Saturday-blizzard] service and the changing conditions that they face,” the council said in a statement Monday. “In many cases, however, service announcements and alerts issued by the LIRR have not accurately reflected the service that is actually being provided.”
Well, except, perhaps for what commuters in Huntington Station heard Monday.