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Sen. Kaminsky: Survey reveals LIRR commuters displeased with service

At a news conference at the Long Beach LIRR station on Tuesday, Sen. Todd Kaminsky discussed the results of a survey his office conducted of LIRR riders that showed riders' dissatisfaction. Credit: Newsday / Alfonso Castillo

A state lawmaker's survey of Long Island Rail Road riders in his district found that, in contrast to the LIRR's own polling, the vast majority are not satisfied with the service they've been getting.

At a Long Beach LIRR station news conference Tuesday, Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) joined with mayors of several Nassau villages to discuss the results of the survey conducted since Sept. 5 by his office of more than 560 railroad customers, all interviewed at the 15 stations in his district.

Just 18 percent of respondents reported being satisfied with LIRR service — in contrast to the 77 percent that the railroad reported were satisfied in its last survey, released in March. That survey included the responses of more than 13,000 riders.

"It's laughable to commuters that three out of every four people say, 'My ride is great. I like taking the railroad.' That's impossible," said Kaminsky, who believes his survey offered a more accurate accounting of LIRR riders' recent frustrations.

MTA chairman Joe Lhota said in a statement Tuesday that the LIRR and its new leadership were working diligently to right the ship, including by investing a “record $6 billion” into modernizing the railroad, which carries 89 million riders each year.

“Phil Eng was recently brought in to turn around LIRR performance, and that is exactly what he is doing by delivering an ambitious program that identifies the causes of delays and gets them fixed quickly,'' Lhota said. "The LIRR is the engine of Long Island’s economy and will move nearly 90 million passengers this year, which is exactly why we are working harder than ever to deliver the service LIRR customers deserve.”

Kaminsky's survey asked seven questions that addressed train timeliness, communications from the LIRR, the condition of trains and of Penn Station, and the value of their fare.

On a 1-to-10 scale, the railroad received average scores of 6 or lower on five of seven questions, and did not average more than 7 on any question.

"This is clearly a failing report card," Kaminsky said.

The LIRR’s own customer satisfaction survey includes 80 questions, and uses a distribution methodology to allow “for maximum representation of lines while keeping data collection as cost efficient as possible,” according to the railroad.

Kaminsky acknowledged that his survey “didn’t really have any sophisticated methodology.”

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