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Cuomo: State can’t cover additional rail costs ‘indefinitely’

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appeared on News 12 Long Island to speak with anchor Stone Grissom about the beginning of the Long Island Rail Road's "summer of hell" on Monday, July 10, 2017. The governor was pleased that the first day went smoothly, but said he's afraid Amtrak will take longer than the anticipated two months to complete repairs. Credit: News 12 Long Island

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday expressed relief that track closures and repair work at Penn Station did not upend Long Island Rail Road service on the first day of a two-month- long overhaul, but he also warned that the state could not maintain the cost of deploying extra buses and ferries to accommodate the work “indefinitely.”

In a pair of afternoon television interviews, Cuomo said the state’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority had “gone through extraordinary measures . . . at state expense,” to provide multiple travel alternatives for LIRR passengers affected by route changes resulting from the track closures at Penn Station.

“What I’m concerned about more than anything else is, it’s not sustainable for us over a long period of time. It costs a lot of money,” Cuomo told News 12 Long Island about the state’s use of buses, ferries, and reduced fares to accommodate LIRR commuters.

Cuomo, who for weeks warned commuters to brace for a “summer of hell,” defended his decision to describe the weeks of track closures as hellish.

“It was a graphic term, summer of hell. I’m not sure the nuns at my grammar school would’ve appreciated it, but I stand by it,” Cuomo said. “Luckily it hasn’t manifested itself today.”

The governor, who has faced criticism over the MTA’s capital improvement spending plan in the wake of multiple New York City subway glitches and a recent derailment in Harlem, defended his push to direct some of the money for the creation of a third track for the LIRR.

“The LIRR needs a third track or it’s going to be what Penn Station is, and that is going to impact New York City also,” Cuomo said on NY1.

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