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Improved LIRR service ‘to be the new norm,’ MTA chairman says

MTA chairman Joe Lhota said Wednesday, Aug. 30,

MTA chairman Joe Lhota said Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017, the improved management that commuters have witnessed over the summer is here to stay. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The chairman of the MTA assured commuters Wednesday that the Long Island Rail Road’s improved performance over the summer months will continue well after full service is restored at Penn Station on Tuesday.

In a conference call with reporters, Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Joe Lhota said the improved management that commuters have witnessed over the summer — when the MTA took several measures to offset the impact of an Amtrak repair project that reduced train capacity at Penn Station — is here to stay.

“Let me be clear: The Long Island Rail Road’s level of performance and customer service provided this summer has become and will be the new normal,” Lhota said. “We’re taking the lessons that we’ve learned this summer and applying them pretty much throughout the entire MTA in our operations.”

Despite having to reduce rush-hour service to and from Penn Station, the LIRR performed better in July than it has in several months. Its 93.1 percent on-time performance in July was the best of any month in 2017, and Lhota said August could top it.

Lhota credited quicker decision-making and improved customer communications for the LIRR’s summer successes.

In a statement Wednesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the “summer of hell” he predicted was “prevented by the preparation, communication, and execution” of a mitigation plan that included running extra trains outside of the rush hour, providing fare discounts to alternative New York City terminals, and supplementing train service with buses and ferries.

Cuomo said the LIRR over the summer set “standards of service they must uphold year-round.”

“This was a potential crisis and it was averted due to government response,” Cuomo said. “I want to thank the railroad, the MTA and the hardworking men and women who got it done and proved that when we have the right resources, management, and cooperation at every level, you can deliver for the people of New York.”

Amtrak is expected to provide its final progress report for its infrastructure renewal project at Penn Station on Thursday.


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