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MTA to propose adding new service, restoring some cuts

An LIRR commuter waits at the Long Beach

An LIRR commuter waits at the Long Beach station. (Jan. 19, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

The MTA will propose on Monday adding new service and restoring some service cuts made during its 2010 budget crunch, including on the Long Island Rail Road, a Metropolitan Transportation Board member said Thursday.

As part of a midyear update of its 2013 operating budget and early look at the 2014 budget, the MTA will report that some increases in revenue will be put toward enhancing service, board member Mitchell Pally, of Stony Brook, said.

Any proposed service improvements would have to be voted on by the MTA board, which meets Wednesday.

MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg would not confirm that there will be such a proposal on Monday, but said the midyear financial plan "would take into account changes in our revenue and our expenses" and that the agency "would be listening to the concerns of folks who say they want some service cuts restored and service added."

Pally and fellow board member Allen Capelli, of Staten Island, in April proposed using $40 million in new state aid to restore some of the cuts made in 2010, when the agency faced a $900 million deficit.

"Some very hard decisions had to be made," Pally said of the 2010 cuts. "I think now that some things are better, we owe it to the customers."

The MTA, which has achieved about $700 million in annual internal savings since 2010, has already restored many service cuts, but some remain in place. They include elimination of year-round weekend service to and from Greenport, elimination of weekend service on the West Hempstead line, and reduction of Port Washington service from half-hourly to hourly on weekends.

In addition to restoring some eliminated service, Pally said he'd like to see new service added to reflect growing ridership and demographic changes.

Mark Epstein, chairman of the LIRR Commuter Council, said restoration of service would be welcome news to riders who have withstood crowded conditions, few parking spots at key stations and other inconveniences since the cuts were made.

"If you want to increase ridership, you have to increase the frequency of trains," Epstein said.

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