Transit advocates give LIRR branches Laggy Awards

Ryan Lynch, associate director of the Tri-State Transportation Ryan Lynch, associate director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, right, and Ben Rosonblatt, research fellow at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, left, award the worst LIRR train line to the Babylon branch. (Sept. 5, 2013) Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

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Time is money, and riders on the Long Island Rail Road's Babylon line are wasting a lot of both, according to a transit advocacy group.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign Thursday announced its first Laggy Awards recognizing LIRR branches with the worst delays, lost time and wasted economic productivity.

The Babylon line -- the LIRR's busiest -- took home the gold Laggy, having lost $14.7 million in economic productivity from June of 2012 until July of 2013, according to campaign calculations. It also had the highest total lost time at 335,086 hours.

The Port Jefferson line took first place for worst delays per rider, with 22.3 hours.

The campaign used LIRR statistics on monthly delays and ridership, as well as U.S. Census salary data, to calculate the lost economic productivity.

Campaign officials said they created the awards -- modeled after the Straphangers Campaign's annual Pokey and Schleppie awards recognizing late New York City subways and buses -- to highlight the need for more investment in LIRR infrastructure.

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"We think it's important to show how much of an economic powerhouse the Long Island Rail Road can be to Long Island," Tri-State campaign associate director Ryan Lynch said at the awards ceremony at the railroad's Hicksville station.

The Ronkonkoma line was second worst, with $12.3 million in lost productivity and 279,206 total lost hours, according to the campaign's calculations. The Huntington branch took the bronze, with $9.8 million and 222,843 hours lost.

LIRR officials said in a statement that the agency supports "any effort to raise awareness about the important need for resources to invest in the infrastructure that the LIRR relies on to provide service." The railroad's on-time performance is at 93.4 percent thus far this year, the agency said.

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Campaign executive director Veronica Vanterpool called on state lawmakers to increase funding for projects that could reduce LIRR delays, including a second track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, a third track between Floral Park and Hicksville, and signal improvements on the Babylon line.

Sen. Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick) who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee and represents several communities on the Babylon line, said the state already spends billions of dollars on LIRR capital projects and "commuters can't afford any more."

"There shouldn't be any more excuses for delays," Fuschillo said. "Their on-time performance should be 100 percent."

 

DUBIOUS AWARD WINNERS

 

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LIRR lines with the biggest delays and lost economic productivity from July 2012 until June 2013

Lost Economic Productivity

1. Babylon: $14,743,781

2. Ronkonkoma: $12,285,067

3. Huntington: $9,805,101

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Lost Total Hours

1. Babylon: 335,086

2. Ronkonkoma: 279,206

3. Huntington: 222,843

Lost Hours Per Rider

1. Port Jefferson: 22.3

2. Montauk: 20.5

3. Ronkonkoma: 19.1

Source: The Tri-State Transportation Campaign's Laggy Awards

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