MTA print, radio ads tell LIRR riders about tentative strike plans

Strike captain Bill Saar with Local 56 Brotherhood Strike captain Bill Saar with Local 56 Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen distributes strike signs on July 9, 2014, during a strike preparation meeting at union offices in Babylon. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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The MTA launched a "communications blitz" Wednesday to inform the public about its tentative plans for a possible strike by LIRR workers -- but stopped short of releasing an actual contingency proposal.

The media effort stressed the limited options for some 180,000 daily riders if workers strike, and made clear the final contingency plan will do little to ease headaches for commuters after a walkout, on July 20 at the earliest.

"Expect roadways to be extremely congested and usual commute times to be significantly longer," the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said in its ads, which recommended that Long Island Rail Road riders work from home or stay with family in or near the city.

Those who do try to get to work will find "very limited shuttle bus service," from Nassau and Suffolk counties to subway stops in Queens, the ads said.

"Only a small fraction of regular weekday rush hour customers can be accommodated, so crowding is inevitable and you should anticipate long commute times. Shuttle bus service should be your last resort," the ads said. The ads do not list pickup and drop-off locations.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, who has declined to talk about the county's plans until the MTA releases its plan, said Wednesday that a strike would "have a disastrous impact on Nassau County, not just for commuters but for our citizens here that need to get to work and continue their businesses."

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Mangano commented just hours before he was scheduled to participate in a conference call with MTA officials. He said the county has offered the MTA "every asset we can bring to the table" to assist in the agency's yet-to-be released contingency plans, including extending westbound green lights in the mornings for buses and for vehicles going eastbound in the evenings.

"Clearly this has the makings of a disastrous disruption to everyday life here in the county of Nassau," Mangano said.

Also Wednesday, the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council in a statement called "on both sides to resume serious negotiations and work diligently to reach a settlement."

"Our message to both parties in this dispute has been 'work it out so riders can get to work' ... The negative economic and human impact of a strike would be huge ... To put it succinctly, we want no strike and no hike," Mark Epstein, commuter council chairman, said in the statement.

The MTA ran ads in seven newspapers, including Newsday, and on 10 radio stations. It also alerted customers through emails, text messages, social media and digital station signs.

The MTA also has an advisory Web page, via a "prominent yellow link" on its home page, mta.info.

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