LIRR commuters react to summer service-change plan

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Long Island commuters, their patience frayed from delays and cancellations on a too-regular basis recently, reacted Monday to the LIRR’s service-change plan -- one that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said would help commuters survive a "summer of hell" -- with a weary mix of anger and skepticism.

Unlike New Jersey Transit’s summer plans, the MTA will not be offering reduced fares to Long Island Rail Road commuters this summer during Amtrak’s planned track repairs at the hub.

All told, the renewal work will cancel or divert 32 rush-hour trains each day into and out of Penn Station during the repairs, which begin July 10 and continue through Sept. 1. Many trains will be rerouted to major hubs like Atlantic Avenue, Jamaica or Hunterspoint Avenue and the MTA will rely on buses and ferries to help move daily LIRR commuters, officials said.

Here's what some riders passing through Penn Station Monday had to say.

Michelle Ricketts, 49, a clinical consultant from Valley
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Michelle Ricketts, 49, a clinical consultant from Valley Stream, was delayed four hours on a train recently due to a power outage in a tunnel leading to New York's Penn Station. She said she was dreading the MTA's summer plan. "I can't even fathom how bad this will be," she said. "I do not look forward to it. These service changes are costing businesses money. We're losing revenue."

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"I like to get work done on my train and I can't do that if we're all playing a game of musical chairs during our commute," said Jeff Stein, 32, of Dix Hills, adding that he fears having to make multiple transfers to get to his office in Manhattan. "There should be fare compensation because [the MTA is] failing to deliver the basic things we paid for."

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"What about getting those buses onto the HOV lane? There's traffic everywhere," said Buneet Singh, 28, a forensic accountant from Deer Park who takes the LIRR to Penn Station but has started driving to work because of worsening train delays. "It's a big issue, more people are driving now definitely."

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MTA plans to bolster subway service at some
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MTA plans to bolster subway service at some locations, with free transfers for LIRR riders, is a welcome idea, said Iris Tamayo, 39, a schoolteacher from Lynbrook and a daily rider to Penn Station. "It could actually be good. I agree 100 percent to take the subway," said Tamayo, who has already begun doing just that. " . . . I can't be late. I have a classroom waiting for me."

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"I think LIRR riders will reach a boiling point this summer," said Nicholas Chavez, 28, a Port Washington branch rider from Bayside. "Service is horrendous and is only getting worse."

Ana Rodriguez, 32, a transportation experience manager from
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Ana Rodriguez, 32, a transportation experience manager from Central Islip, doubted that many companies would comply with the MTA's request to allow employees to work from home or during odd hours. "I just don't think most employers would be flexible," Rodriguez said. "All this means is that any way [the MTA] puts it, we're going to be late to work."

Jonathan Mont, 47, who commutes from Huntington to
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Jonathan Mont, 47, who commutes from Huntington to Manhattan each day, said he was concerned that subway service wouldn't be able to support riders transferring from places like Jamaica, Atlantic Terminal or Hunterspoint Avenue. "It could be great, but it all depends if the subway trains are going to be running," he said, adding that "with all the transfers it's going to add up. It's going be difficult to clock your commute."

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