10 things to do now in case of an LIRR strike: apps, tips and tools

Long Island Rail Road union workers and supporters Long Island Rail Road union workers and supporters call on the MTA to accept their demands for a new 6-year-contract during a rally at the Massapequa LIRR station on Saturday, June 21, 2014. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

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With a July 20 deadline looming for the MTA and LIRR unions to agree on a new contract, it might be time to prepare for the worst.

To help you manage a future when roughly 300,000 commuters will have to find other ways to get to work on Long Island’s already clogged roads, we've compiled this LIRR Strike Survival list with tools, apps and other arrangements to make now.

Tell us in the comments, below, if there's anything else you've come across that's helpful.

1. Twitter

The Web’s most immediate social network will be packed with media, government officials and the public sharing strike info. Hashtags like #LIRRstrike will help you curate the flow of information.

Some key accounts to follow:

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@511nyLongIsland - The state’s 511 feed is frequently updated with info on traffic, accidents and road closures.

@MTA - The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s feed should offer updates on strike negotiations

@LIRR - The LIRR’s Twitter account is usually 95 percent about train updates, but during a strike it will focus on the alternatives: bus service and park and rides.

@Newsday - Newsday will be updating you constantly on travel conditions and strike negotiations.

@News12LI - News 12 Long Island will also be updating the latest news and traffic.

2. Ride-sharing / carpooling tools

While it will definitely cost you, popular ride-sharing company Uber will pick you up in New York City and bring you to Long Island. Asking other riders to join you could make the trip a bit more affordable, too. Download the mobile app to get price quotes for your route.

If Uber is all booked up, you can also use LI cabs or NYC’s traditional yellow cab service, which will drive you to Long Island while the meters run.

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New York’s 511 service also runs a ride-sharing program where commuters can find others in their neighborhood looking to carpool. There’s also the old-fashioned way: talk to the people who commute in your neighborhood and try to set up a carpooling plan.

3. Car rentals

If you don't own a car and will need one, renting may be your best option. A few to consider include Hertz 24/7, which can find you cars based on your location, and Enterprise, which picks you up. There’s also Zipcar, which can hook you up with a car for just a few hours if you need, but you’ll have to set up an account ahead of time to access the service.

4. Gas price trackers

Beside popular price tracker GasBuddy, LongIslandGasPrices.com is a good crowdsourced site charting where gas is cheapest, and where it’s most expensive. With extra driving will come extra gas usage, so make sure you fill up. Also, if you see any stations price-gouging, let everyone know. It’s not legal.

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5. Map, route-finding and news apps

The best route to work might be less of a straight shot than you think. Both Google and Mapquest’s mobile apps offer real-time traffic updates and alternate routes for getting around gridlock. MapQuest recently scored top reviews for its traffic-avoidance features. And there's there's the new kid on the block, crowd-sourced Waze.

If your commute involves a number of different modes of transportation, HopStop can help you find the best overall route, sorted by time, fewest transfers or least walking. It’s available online or as a mobile app.

And as always you can get live traffic maps and cameras, along with the latest strike news, by downloading the Newsday and the News 12 Long Island apps.

If you're going to test the waters in the city, try Bestparking to find a (somewhat) affordable parking spot. The Smooth Park app will also tell you what NYC streets have restrictions and alternate-side parking schedules.

6. Bus and train schedules

The MTA has said it will shuttle people from several New York City subway stations to LIRR stations across Long Island. As for trips within Long Island, try the Nassau Inter-County Express or Suffolk Transit buses to get to work.

The MTA’s TripPlanner can tell you what buses and subways to take based on your address.

Of course, for anyone planning to drive into Queens or Brooklyn, hoping to take subways the rest of the way into Manhattan, make sure to look at the subway map ahead of time so you know where best to travel from.

7. Snacks

Long commutes could push back mealtimes. Best to carry some kind of snack. Protein bars can satisfy in a pinch.

8. Set your work schedule

If you can’t work from home, or don’t have vacation days to use, talk to your boss ahead of time about moving your schedule to work earlier or later shifts. If everyone works 9 to 5, the rush hour gridlock could be unbearable.

9. Arrange your child care

Longer commutes also mean your usual child care arrangements might not work. Talk with your day care or day camps about their late pickup policies, and set up baby-sitters before someone else books them.

10. Stay cool

We’re not talking about air conditioning here; an LIRR strike will make life difficult for commuters, but getting angry won’t make it any easier. Drive slow and pay attention to the roads. Traffic will be bad, but fender benders causing lane closures could make travel a nightmare and road rage is possible even on a normal traffic day.

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