Commuters encounter crowds and more customer service presence on the...

Commuters encounter crowds and more customer service presence on the platforms and throughout the LIRR's Jamaica Station on Monday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The adjustments made by the Long Island Rail Road to its schedule following last week’s chaotic launch of full service to Grand Central Madison did little to ease the crowding and chaos of the rush hours, some LIRR commuters said Monday.

But the railroad’s interim president, Catherine Rinaldi, said the adjustments, which include additional cars on the busiest trains and more frequent shuttles on the Brooklyn line, made for “much improved” conditions for riders Monday, and that things will continue to get better.

The start of the second week of the railroad’s new service plan looked much like the first week, with scores of commuters complaining on social media about delays and heavy crowding at stations, including Jamaica and Penn Station, and on trains.

The problems came as the railroad drastically overhauled its operation — including by shortening rush hour trains by several cars — to accommodate service to Grand Central Madison. The new Manhattan terminal is the product of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s $11.1 billion East Side Access megaproject.

While his train Monday was slightly less crowded than when he last rode the LIRR last Tuesday, Huntington commuter Christopher Sangimino said his evening train from Penn Station was still “significantly more crowded than any Monday train I’ve ever been on.”

“The fact the trains are still crowded today is indication to me that the problem is not fixed,” said Sangimino, 38, who expects “the true test” for the LIRR will be Tuesday, when ridership tends to be higher.

“Imagine another job where you could fail so spectacularly, ruin the days of thousands of people and still keep your job,” Sangimino said of LIRR decision-makers.

Despite riders’ continued complaints, LIRR interim president said the tweaks enacted Monday, which included an extra trainset serving the new Brooklyn shuttle line, longer trains, and modified track assignments at Jamaica, “are all positive changes that have improved things.” Rinaldi, who visited Jamaica station during the morning rush hour, said she noticed less crowding and better “passenger flow.”

“Things were just much better,” said Rinaldi, who noted that the railroad will continue monitoring ridership and travel patterns and make adjustments as necessary, including with another train set on the Brooklyn line Tuesday. “We’re committed to doing better by all our customers.”

And the number of those customers using Grand Central is growing, Rinaldi said. The LIRR reported last week that about 29% of Manhattan customers were using the station. During Monday's evening rush it was 38%.

Although Rinaldi said the rollout of the new service plan is a “dynamic process,” Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino on Monday dismissed the operation as “a huge step backward” for commuters in his town, who have complained about longer waits and more crowding, despite promises of improved service.

Making matters worse, Saladino said, is Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal to increase payroll taxes on employers to help fund the MTA, the LIRR's parent organization.

“Oyster Bay commuters are left with these service cuts, and a proposed tax hike on top of it,” said Saladino, who was joined by several elected officials and LIRR commuters at a rally Monday against the LIRR’s service changes at the Oyster Bay train station.

Nathaly Lezama, of Sea Cliff, said she commuted to Grand Central Madison for the first time and liked what she saw, but had to deal with "longer times and less trains."

“Inside, it’s lovely,” Lezama, 26, said of the new station. “But the train times aren’t lovely.”

The adjustments made by the Long Island Rail Road to its schedule following last week’s chaotic launch of full service to Grand Central Madison did little to ease the crowding and chaos of the rush hours, some LIRR commuters said Monday.

But the railroad’s interim president, Catherine Rinaldi, said the adjustments, which include additional cars on the busiest trains and more frequent shuttles on the Brooklyn line, made for “much improved” conditions for riders Monday, and that things will continue to get better.

The start of the second week of the railroad’s new service plan looked much like the first week, with scores of commuters complaining on social media about delays and heavy crowding at stations, including Jamaica and Penn Station, and on trains.

The problems came as the railroad drastically overhauled its operation — including by shortening rush hour trains by several cars — to accommodate service to Grand Central Madison. The new Manhattan terminal is the product of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s $11.1 billion East Side Access megaproject.

While his train Monday was slightly less crowded than when he last rode the LIRR last Tuesday, Huntington commuter Christopher Sangimino said his evening train from Penn Station was still “significantly more crowded than any Monday train I’ve ever been on.”

“The fact the trains are still crowded today is indication to me that the problem is not fixed,” said Sangimino, 38, who expects “the true test” for the LIRR will be Tuesday, when ridership tends to be higher.

“Imagine another job where you could fail so spectacularly, ruin the days of thousands of people and still keep your job,” Sangimino said of LIRR decision-makers.

Despite riders’ continued complaints, LIRR interim president said the tweaks enacted Monday, which included an extra trainset serving the new Brooklyn shuttle line, longer trains, and modified track assignments at Jamaica, “are all positive changes that have improved things.” Rinaldi, who visited Jamaica station during the morning rush hour, said she noticed less crowding and better “passenger flow.”

“Things were just much better,” said Rinaldi, who noted that the railroad will continue monitoring ridership and travel patterns and make adjustments as necessary, including with another train set on the Brooklyn line Tuesday. “We’re committed to doing better by all our customers.”

And the number of those customers using Grand Central is growing, Rinaldi said. The LIRR reported last week that about 29% of Manhattan customers were using the station. During Monday's evening rush it was 38%.

Although Rinaldi said the rollout of the new service plan is a “dynamic process,” Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino on Monday dismissed the operation as “a huge step backward” for commuters in his town, who have complained about longer waits and more crowding, despite promises of improved service.

Making matters worse, Saladino said, is Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal to increase payroll taxes on employers to help fund the MTA, the LIRR's parent organization.

“Oyster Bay commuters are left with these service cuts, and a proposed tax hike on top of it,” said Saladino, who was joined by several elected officials and LIRR commuters at a rally Monday against the LIRR’s service changes at the Oyster Bay train station.

Nathaly Lezama, of Sea Cliff, said she commuted to Grand Central Madison for the first time and liked what she saw, but had to deal with "longer times and less trains."

“Inside, it’s lovely,” Lezama, 26, said of the new station. “But the train times aren’t lovely.”

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

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