Commuters mill about after departing their train at the Long...

Commuters mill about after departing their train at the Long Island Rail Road station in Jamaica during the afternoon hours of March 11, 2014. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr., File

Long Island Rail Road customers were about as satisfied with their service in 2014 as they were a year earlier, even when faced with the possibility of an LIRR union strike, according to a new survey.

Of about 16,000 customers who participated in the LIRR's 2014 Customer Satisfaction Survey, 84 percent said they were satisfied overall -- equaling last year's approval rate.

The survey was conducted in June, weeks before a July deadline for the railroad's union workers to agree to a new contract or walk off the job.

Despite the threat, customers were most satisfied, at 92 percent, with the performance of LIRR conductors.

Anthony Simon, general chairman of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union, which represents LIRR conductors, said the results "speak volumes."

"It says that no matter what our members are faced with, they are always going to be true professionals," Simon said.

Ninety percent of weekend LIRR riders were satisfied with the service, while 78 percent of rush-hour customers were satisfied, according to the survey.

As usual, riders on the Port Washington branch -- the only LIRR branch that does not go through the busy Jamaica junction -- were the most satisfied, at 87 percent. The Port Jefferson branch, which is not fully electrified, again scored the lowest rating, at 79 percent, but gained 6 percentage points over 2013.

LIRR riders also gave higher marks to the LIRR's communication strategies.

The new Train Time mobile app scored an 84 percent satisfaction rating. Satisfaction with the railroad's Facebook and Twitter efforts improved to 78 percent and 77 percent, respectively, from 75 percent for both in 2013. And 86 percent of customers said they were satisfied with the LIRR's communication during a service disruption -- up from 84 percent last year.

LIRR president Patrick Nowakowski said the survey results show "customers are recognizing our ongoing efforts to improve customer communication." But he added that the LIRR has "more work to do" in the category of on-time performance, which garnered an 80 percent satisfaction rating -- down from 82 percent in 2013.

"Our goal is to remain customer-focused in all we do and try to exceed customer expectations across the board," he said.

LIRR Commuter Council chairman Mark Epstein noted that drops in customer satisfaction in other categories, including reverse commutes and conditions at Penn Station, illustrate the need for the MTA to make more investments in its system.

The LIRR scored the highest of any MTA agency. Seventy-eight percent of subway riders said they were satisfied. Metro-North, reeling from a series of safety-related incidents in the past year, saw its overall customer satisfaction plummet 20 percentage points to 73 percent.

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