Pols urge better contingency plan for commuters in event of LIRR strike

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine during a Feb. Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine during a Feb. 20, 2013, news conference. Photo Credit: Ana Maria Rico

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Suffolk County and Brookhaven officials on Tuesday called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to bolster its contingency plan by expanding shuttle bus service in town in case of a strike.

Contract negotiations between the MTA and unions representing 5,400 Long Island Rail Road workers have limped along, and a strike could come July 20.

"The strike will have devastating consequences on the local economy ... but if it occurs, we want to be prepared," Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said in a news conference at town hall in Farmingville. "We don't believe the MTA has done its best to prepare for the strike."

Town officials say only the Long Island Rail Road's Ronkonkoma station would be available for shuttle buses for Brookhaven travelers commuting to Manhattan.

But MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said the plan has not been completed. "We're in the process of finalizing and revising the contingency plan, and we hope to release it soon. But we hope the negotiations will end so that we won't need a plan."

Brookhaven officials want shuttle services offered at LIRR stations in Stony Brook, Port Jefferson, Patchogue and Mastic-Shirley. "This is a prescription for disaster," Romaine said of only having one shuttle service destination.

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Romaine also announced the town plans to open carpool lots in the south parking lot at Town Hall, at Percy B. Raynor Memorial Park in Centereach and at Martha Avenue Park in Bellport if a strike happens.

Suffolk County Legis. Al Krupski, representing eastern Brookhaven, described the LIRR as "a big economic driver for the town" and said transportation officials should be more "responsive in the services they are offering."

Kevin Hyms, secretary of the Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce, said he's worried parking in nearby residential areas will significantly increase as commuters look for areas in which to park.

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