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Senate OKs bill to compensate commuters for Penn Station woes

LIRR commuters check the departure board at Penn

LIRR commuters check the departure board at Penn Station on Thursday, April 13, 2017. Credit: Jeff Bachner

ALBANY — The Senate on Monday passed a bill that would withhold state funding from Amtrak in order to compensate Long Island commuters who are faced with eroding service through Penn Station, which the federal agency operates.

But there has been no discussion for a similar effort by the Assembly’s Democratic majority to dock Amtrak for poor service and overdue maintenance and compensate commuters through reduced fares. That makes approval of the bill uncertain.

“The couple of months have been a nightmare,” said Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill), who is the prime sponsor of the legislation.

“My commuters pay about $300 per month for the dis-privilege of being jammed into cars and having ...[trains] canceled,” said Sen. Todd Kaminsky (R-Long Beach). “Literally, this is no way to run a railroad.”

The Senate’s proposal, which passed 55-6, would authorize the state Metropolitan Transportation Authority to stop payments until Dec. 31 or until Penn Station’s on-time performance reaches 95 percent for a month.

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