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LIRR: 2 summonses issued during alcohol ban

A file photo of alcohol thrown in a

A file photo of alcohol thrown in a garbage bin in Penn Station the weekend the LIRR enacted an alcohol ban for all trains leaving the station between midnight and 5 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. (May 19, 2012) Credit: Charles Eckert

The Long Island Rail Road issued two alcohol-related summonses for disorderly conduct Sunday, the first two tickets handed out since a new overnight alcohol ban took effect over the weekend, railroad officials said.

The tickets were issued on the platforms at Penn Station, railroad spokesman Aaron Donovan said Monday.

No tickets were issued on trains -- and, Donovan said, no arrests were made.

The ban against alcohol on weekend overnight trains was instituted following a series of alcohol-related incidents, including two attacks on crew members.

The pilot program prohibits alcohol on trains and platforms from midnight Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday and from midnight Saturday to 5 a.m. Sunday.

After the implementation of the policy, Metropolitan Transportation Authority police asked riders boarding trains at Penn and Jamaica to throw away their beers -- a directive that got mixed reactions in the wee hours of the morning Saturday.

Many were compliant. Some passengers, particularly those who were sober, were in favor of the measure, hoping it would cut down on late-night chaos on the trains.

"People drinking on the train late at night can be loud and boisterous," said Shakena Ackman, 32, of Central Islip, who was heading home with her husband on the 12:14 a.m. Ronkonkoma train Saturday.

To others, the rule seemed excessive, infringing on their rights to relax with cold brews.

"I'm disappointed," Ashwi Williams, 28, of Elmont, said. "Some people are working 13-hour days and they need to mellow out with a beer.

Donovan said officials did not keep count of how much alcohol was confiscated.

At Penn Station, posted signs and a digital ticker below the arrivals board alerted passengers to the ban. Announcements made over the loudspeaker advised police would enforce it.

About a dozen police officers stood on the train platform early Saturday, pointing passengers with drinks toward trash bins that steadily filled with discarded beer bottles and cans, many wrapped in paper bags and half-consumed.

Aboard the trains, fliers explaining the alcohol ban had been left on seats for passengers. Officers patrolled the train cars checking for alcohol.

Many said they understood MTA officials' intentions, citing drunken and combative youths as target offenders, but they questioned whether the action would curb violence.

"If they're going to assault conductors, they're already drunk when they get on the train," Brittany Matson, 21, of Floral Park, said Saturday.

Her friends, Meagan Mosie, 22, of New Hyde Park, and Kaitlin Lucke, 22, of Floral Park, were enjoying beers at Penn Station as they waited for their train home. They planned to finish them before they got on the train Saturday but noted that not everyone would be willing to follow the rules.

"The more the restrictions, the more people are going to rebel," Mosie said. "It's hard to enforce it."

With Candice Ferrette

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