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LIRR commuters: Riding experience can be smooth, but delays too commonplace

Long Island Rail Road passengers, mostly at the

Long Island Rail Road passengers, mostly at the Hicksville station, talked on Thursday, June 20 about what they like and don't like about riding the rails. Credit: Newsday / Yeong-Ung Yang

For many who don't own or won't use a car, going into New York City typically is done by way of the Long Island Rail Road.

Newsday spoke with two dozen riders this week about the LIRR's service while they waited at stations throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties. There were occasional commuters, using it on weekends or rarely, who had no or few issues with the transportation system. For those commuting regularly, their experiences can be summed up in one word: delays.

Here is what they had to say.

Caroline Corrigan

Lives in: Westhampton Beach

Occupation: Works at plastic surgeon business; waitress

How long have you been a rider? 2 years

How often do you ride? Twice a month

Where do you ride? “I go to [New York City] to see my boyfriend, go for city trips, commuting for the fun of it.”

How would you rate service? “My trips haven’t been that bad. They’ve been easygoing, smooth rides.”

What works about the LIRR? “Having the train tickets in the app has been a positive influence on my train experience, because I’m always rushing.”

How would you improve? “I wouldn’t [improve] anything.”

Best experience? “I’ve had a couple. In general, everything is good.”

Worst experience? “There was one incident, when we were going to a concert, where one person fell in front of a train, and everything stopped completely.”

Any new things you’d like to see tried? “Maybe, 'cause it’s hard to hear over the mic for the conductor, so maybe a more clear … voice, I guess. It’s hard to understand.”

LIRR station: Ronkonkoma

Darnell Morgan

Lives in: Nesconset

Occupation: Building, shipping windows, screens

How long have you been a rider? “Before I got the car, I was always riding the train, for maybe 10 years.”

How often do you ride? “I don’t use the train often; my car’s in the shop. It’s just the next-best option.” During those 10 years, he rode the train twice a week.

Where do you ride? Penn Station

How would you rate service? “It’s overall good.”

What works about the LIRR? “Driving the car,” he said, laughing. “I mean, [the] train is good, it’s easy, you don’t have to worry about the train. It’s the best way to travel.”

What doesn’t work? “Having to wait on your train, basically.”

How would you improve? “Everything’s fine to me.”

Best experience? “Accidentally getting on the wrong train and it happened to be the express train to Penn Station.”

Worst experience? “Just the delays, that’s the worst thing. Going from 5 minutes to 10 minute to hour delays. That’s the worst.”

Any new things you’d like to see tried? “Wi-Fi. That would be the best thing.”

LIRR station: Ronkonkoma

Joseph Algiere

Lives in: Farmingdale

Occupation: Retired schoolteacher

How long have you been a rider? 20 to 25 years

How often do you ride? “Not that often since I’m retired … once a month.”

Where do you ride? “I go to see my son, take the train to Ronkonkoma, and I’m picked up here.”

How would you rate service? “It’s fine, but I travel off-peak hours.”

What works about the LIRR? “It’s convenient, and I live two or three blocks away from it. It takes me to anywhere I need to [go] on Long Island.”

What doesn’t work? “Nothing really, I don’t use it on a daily basis.”

Best experience? “It’s always there, just walking three blocks from my house and being able to go anywhere, that’s the best part.”

Worst experience? “Train delays; delays, when it’s late, everything stops.”

Any new things you’d like to see tried? “I mean, make it direct from my house to the airport, but that’s not going to happen,” he said, laughing.

LIRR: Ronkonkoma

Armen Aghadjanian

Lives in: California, but lived in Garden City 50 years ago

Occupation: Retired electrician 

How long have you been a rider? “Many, many years.”

How often do you ride? “I took the train sometimes; there were times I did it every day and there were times I stopped.”

Where do you ride? Penn Station

How would you rate service? “I can’t complain about it. I just take it as-is.”

What works about the LIRR? “You don’t have to drive, no traffic, you don’t have to pay parking in Manhattan.”

Worst experience? “Like I said, I can’t complain, because I’m not the type of person to complain about things.”

LIRR: Ronkonkoma

Kristy Gange

Lives in: Sound Beach

Occupation: Student

How long have you been a rider? Since childhood

How often do you ride? Twice a month

Where do you ride? Concerts in the city, like the Ariana Grande concert Wednesday

How would you rate service? “Trip is nice and easy. It always feels fast when you’re on it. It’s a very relaxed setting.”

What works about the LIRR? “You don’t have to worry about gas and traffic.” It's cheaper than Uber. She also likes that restaurants are near some train stations.

How would you improve? “Just more regular intervals.”

Best experience? “Most of the time, it’s the same experience each time, so whenever we’re riding it’s into the city to see a show or concert, so it’s just always a fun time.”

Worst experience? “I haven’t had any, but today, because we’re missing our train.”

LIRR: Ronkonkoma

Amanda Bayer

Lives in: Hauppauge

Occupation: Student

How long have you been a rider? Since childhood

How often do you ride? Once every couple months

Where do you ride? Concerts in the city

How would you rate service? “Ride is pretty smooth, and I don’t encounter delays.”

What works about the LIRR? “I pay less for a train ticket for an hour ride to NYC than paying for a 20-minute Uber ride.”

How would you improve? "More regular intervals."

Best experience? “Every experience I’ve had is pretty solid.”

Worst experience? “I haven’t had any.”

LIRR: Ronkonkoma

Chintan Turakhia 

Lives in: Muttontown

Occupation: Research analyst

How long have you been a rider? 20 years regularly 

How often do you ride? “I’d say I’m a former commuter for 20 years. Recently, four to five times a month.”

Where do you ride? Manhattan

How would you rate service? “It’s been improving. They’ve been making a lot of investments in the infrastructure. Overall, a happy customer.”

What works about the LIRR? “They’re comfortable. It’s been working out for me.”

What doesn’t work? “Rails itself are quite dated. If weather goes bad, there are a lot of delays.”

How would you improve? “I’m just hoping system will improve over time. Just improve the rails themselves."

Best experience? “For the most part, my commute has been uneventful. Bad experiences are more exceptional.”

Worst experience? “When it snows, things just go haywire. Wintertime is the biggest challenge. I had a derailment, which caused a delay for 1 to 2 hours.”

Any new things you’d like to see tried? “Not really.”

LIRR: Hicksville

Lynne Lecher

Lives in: Jericho

Occupation: Vice president, sales

How long have you been a rider? Since 1960

How often do you ride? At least once a week

Where do you ride? Manhattan, to see shows

How would you rate service? “There’s definitely been an improvement over the last 20 years. That, I like.”

What works about the LIRR? “It’s convenient, it’s comfortable. Much better than taking a car.”

What doesn’t work? “I wish there was more parking.”

How would you improve? “I’m very simple." She said as long the rides get her to where she needs to go, it's good.

Best experience? “When I just come in, make the train and I get off the train.”

Worst experience? “In winter, there was a delay. We all huddled into the train. It was at least [a] 35- to 40-minute” delay.

Any new things you’d like to see tried? “During rush hours, maybe more seats.”

LIRR Hicksville

Kenny Singh

Lives in: Hicksville

Occupation: Real estate 

How long have you been a rider? 40 years

How often do you ride? Once a week

Where do you ride? Manhattan

How would you rate service? “It’s good, it’s better than the MTA.”

What works about the LIRR? “Commute is easy.”

What doesn’t work? “Late-night service, after 10 o’clock, it’s very difficult to catch the trains. Timings, missed trains is the biggest headache.”

How would you improve? "Improve late-night service."

Best experience? "Just having no delays."

Worst experience? “Ten to 15 minutes extra times, that’s pretty much it.”

Any new things you’d like to see tried? “Just better timings, nighttime coverage.”

LIRR Hicksville

Keelin Gagnon

Lives in: Cold Spring Harbor

Occupation: Full-time mom

How long have you been a rider? Always taken it, since growing up on Long Island

How often do you ride? Mostly on weekends

Where do you ride? Manhattan

How would you rate service? “Overall, it’s pretty good.”

What works about the LIRR? “Don’t have to worry about parking” in the city. “I love the app, it’s easy to purchase a ticket. It’s nice to sit and not have to be stuck in traffic.”

What doesn’t work? “I just wish it was faster.”

Best experience? “It’s just how easy it is and not having to deal with traffic. That’s my best experience.”

Worst experience? None, "But having to be stuck in Penn Station because of the delays, that would be the worst.”

Any new things you’d like to see tried? “If we could get a bullet train, that’d be awesome.” More chargers for phones

LIRR Hicksville

Mike Vassallo

Lives in: Hicksville

Occupation: Unemployed, was interviewed for a recruiter position

How long have you been a rider? 1 year

How often do you ride? Not frequent, but was a daily commuter back in 2000s

Where do you ride? Penn Station

How would you rate service? “I don’t have anything bad to say about it.”

What works about the LIRR? "Convenience."

What doesn’t work? “We all get delays. Unfortunately, it’s not too comfortable in the summertime. If the electricity goes out and there’s no AC, you just have to grin and bear it.”

How would you improve? “Not much really.”

Best experience? “Just taking a ride into New York City.”

Worst experience? “It was 9/11. We were packed like sardines. There was fear that we could be killed.”

LIRR Hicksville

Rhea Smith

Lives in: Westbury

Occupation: Cleaning houses

How long have you been a rider? 6 months

How often do you ride? Monday through Friday

Where do you ride? Work in Jamaica, Queens

How would you rate service? “I don’t like it; the trains are delayed, [and] can never get a seat in the morning or afternoon.”

What works about the LIRR? Nothing

What doesn’t work? "Timing, delays, not enough seats."

How would you improve? “They could put in more train cars, and be on schedule.”

Best experience? None

Worst experience? “There was a fatality and it took me 2 hours to [get to] work. Trains were messed up, and it bypassed Jamaica straight to Penn Station."

LIRR Hicksville

Michael Schussel

Lives in: Woodbury

Occupation: Technician at CBS

How long have you been a rider? 25 years

How often do you ride? Five days a week

Where do you ride? Penn Station

How would you rate service? “More bad than good.”

What doesn’t work? “Always delays at least once a week, always problems. Trains are very noisy.”

How would you improve? “Not sure.”

Best experience? When he gets to work and home on time. “I’m amazed when there aren’t delays.”

Worst experience? “There were times, mostly weather-related, when there was snow and they had switch problems, and my train eastbound just ended in Jamaica when my car’s at Hicksville. This, for the prices we pay?”

Any new things you’d like to see tried? “Seems like equipment is antiquated.” Get new hardware, and also phone chargers.

LIRR: Hicksville

Marc Berez

Lives in: Dix Hills

Occupation: Works at Morgan Stanley

How long have you been a rider? Since 1977

How often do you ride? Five days a week

Where do you ride? Manhattan

How would you rate service? “Usually it’s OK.”

What works about the LIRR? “It gets me to the city.”

What doesn’t work? “There are delays, more often than not. Can be better.”

How would you improve? “Union and management have to sit together with the governor and try to get funding; they don’t have enough funding. There has to be more maintenance.”

Best experience? None

Worst experience? “Just when the trains come at different times or when they're late.”

Any new things you’d like to see tried? “Let them get things right first.”

LIRR Hicksville

Dominick Bakhtiar

Lives in: Hicksville

Occupation: Computer engineer 

How long have you been a rider? 10 years

How often do you ride? Daily

Where do you ride? Manhattan

How would you rate service? “It’s OK. It’s pretty reliable in general.”

What works about the LIRR? “When there’s no snow and train’s on time.”

What doesn’t work? “When it snows, everything falls apart.”

How would you improve? "Could be cleaner."

Best experience? “When I left something on the train, and then there’s a lost and found, and you find it.” Left a key.

Worst experience? “There’s been some crashes, and it’s understandable. About a month ago, there was a pretty bad crash, and I saw the train dug into the platform.”

Any new things you’d like to see tried? "Wi-Fi on train."

LIRR Hicksville

Gary Stallona

Lives in: Mount Sinai

Occupation: Retired insurance underwriter

How long have you been a rider? 25 years, former commuter

How often do you ride? Formerly daily

Where do you ride? Penn Station

How would you rate service? "It's antiquated. There are always problems with switches, and you never know when you're going home."

What works about LIRR? "When I get home on time, it's miraculous."

What doesn't? "Schedules are not good, and conductors aren't any good. When it rains or snows, my wife knew I was coming in home late, always."

How would you improve? "Trains are dirty and disgusting," and he would make a rule forbidding drinking on trains.

Best experience? "I miss the old diesels, the old trains. They would plow through everything."

Worst experience? "I missed a connection once at the Jamaica station. It was horrible because that happened due to a delay at Penn. It's frustrating."

Any new things you'd like to see tried? Wi-Fi

LIRR station: Huntington

Nikollz Nadirashvili

Lives in: Kings Park

Occupation: Unemployed, disability

How long have you been a rider? Since 2004

How often do you ride? Twice a month

Where do you ride? To Brooklyn, doctor's appointments 

How would you rate service? "It's just OK because sometimes it's breaking down."

What works about LIRR? "I don't have a car because of my disabilities, so this is my option." 

What doesn't? "Bad timing and cancellations."

How would you improve? "I would say just definitely not with fare hikes. Do track work and maintenance, and government has to be involved more." 

Best experience? "I just like it when I'm riding with air conditioning in the summer and a heater in the winter."

Worst experience? "A transformer blew up in 2009 at the Jamaica station. For a long while, trains were not going from there to Penn Station, and that was a hassle."

LIRR station: Huntington

Henry Avila

Lives in: Melville

Occupation: Dentist

How long have you been a rider? 5 to 6 months

How often do you ride? Daily

Where do you ride? Mineola

How would you rate service? "It's good."

What works about LIRR? "Everything works. It's always on time, at least for me."

Best experience? "I just like the customer service interactions I had. They're all nice."

Worst experience? "One day I had to wait a long time when a tree fell on the tracks, but things like that are out of their control."

LIRR station: Huntington

Marc Lambert

Lives in: Amityville

Occupation: Nurse

How long have you been a rider? One week

How often do you ride? Daily

Where do you ride? Bay Shore, for work

How would you rate service? "It's good so far. I haven't had a bad experience."

What doesn't work about LIRR? "The only thing I don't like is the penalties they add when you buy a ticket from the conductor. It's three times more expensive."

How would you improve? "Some bathrooms are locked at the stations. I would want to use those."

Any new things you'd like to see tried? Wi-Fi

LIRR station: Bay Shore

Arthur Smith

Lives in: New York City

Occupation: Student

How long have you been a rider? Since childhood

How often do you ride? Once a year

Where do you ride? Bay Shore Station. "We have a cousin and family in Fire Island we visit every year."

How would you rate service? Average

What works about LIRR? "I mean, it runs."

What doesn't? "It just takes too long and intervals are too long. My sister and I came here 53 minutes ago, and we're still waiting."

How would you improve? "Just make it faster."

Any new things you'd like to see tried? Wi-Fi. "Bathrooms could also be cleaner. Those are some stinky things."

LIRR station: Bay Shore

Swati Srivastara

Lives in: Bay Shore and New York City

Occupation: Film director

How long have you been a rider? Three years

How often do you ride? Twice a week

Where do you ride? NYC

How would you rate service? "It's an average system, but could be faster."

What works about LIRR? "It's a good system to take to the city and a means to avoid the car."

What doesn't? "It needs to be faster. There needs to be more trains. And why don't they allow dogs? It's why my husband and I don't have a dog."

How would you improve? "I would electrify the line to Bay Shore after the Babylon stop, so there could be more trains coming in."

Worst experience? "Sometimes in winter, during the holiday times, so many people are crammed to go to the city, but the trains come in and have only two compartments. It interferes with holiday plans a lot."

Any new things you'd like to see tried? Wi-Fi, more power sockets, and rules allowing dogs

LIRR station: Bay Shore

John Mann

Lives in: Merrick

Occupation: Mechanic

How long have you been a rider? A month

How often do you ride? Four days a week

Where do you ride? NYC

How would you rate service? "It's good enough."

What works about LIRR? "Everything."

What doesn't? "It's usually five minutes late, but I'm always late, so it works out."

How would you improve? More frequency 

LIRR station: Mineola

John Mackin

Lives in: East Islip

Occupation: Electrician

How long have you been a rider? 20 years

How often do you ride? Three times a month

Where do you ride? Manhattan

How would you rate service? "It's average, with its inconsistencies."

What works about LIRR? "It's convenient using it to go into Manhattan."

What doesn't? "There's too much issues on the tracks. Especially during peak hours, there's not enough trains and it's overcrowded."

Best experience? "I get on the train when it's supposed to be there. That's the best."

Worst experience? "I got dumped off once in another station, so I had to find my own transportation to the place I needed to get to."

LIRR station: Mineola

Ajansha Harrison

Lives in: New Jersey

Occupation: Clerk

How often do you ride? 12 times the past two years

Where do you ride? Mineola

How would you rate service? "It's gotten better, from a 5 out of 10 to a 7. They can still improve."

What works about LIRR? "It gets you where you need to go."

What doesn't? "It's just slow when you need to get somewhere in a rush."

How would you improve? "I would put more air conditioning." 

Best experience? "When I used the train once to get to work early in the morning at 4, there was the like the least amount of people there and everything ran smoothly. That's when it's the best."

Worst experience? "I had to sit outside in the cold once waiting at a station, and it took forever, like 20 minutes."

Any new things you'd like to see tried? Lower fares

LIRR station: Mineola

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