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MTA chief Lhota decries LIRR’s ‘lack of urgency, disrespect’

MTA chairman Joe Lhota speaks at a news

MTA chairman Joe Lhota speaks at a news conference at Penn Station, Tuesday, July 18, 2017. Credit: Jeff Bachner

MTA chairman Joe Lhota said Tuesday he’s not buying any of LIRR president Patrick Nowakowski’s explanations for the spate of problems that have plagued Long Island commuters in recent weeks and reiterated the need for changes at the railroad.

In a conference call with reporters, Lhota addressed Nowakowski’s remarks to Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board members during a Monday meeting. Nowakowski attributed the Long Island Rail Road’s recent service woes to factors ranging from poor weather, to a shortage of train repair equipment, to Amtrak’s neglect of Penn Station in Manhattan.

Nowakowski also said getting reliable and timely information to customers is made difficult by the lack of a centralized LIRR command center.

“I was unconvinced by everything he said,” Lhota said of Nowakowski’s explanation. “I actually believe that we need to treat our customers with a lot more respect.”

Coming off a December during which delays rose 27 percent from the previous month, and there were 18 service suspensions in the first 18 days of January, Lhota earlier this month spoke about the need to enact meaningful reforms at the LIRR, including through a “re-evaluation” of its staff.

On Tuesday, Lhota confirmed the MTA is “in a process of making changes” at the railroad.

“Suffice to say . . . I’m not satisfied with the lack of urgency that’s coming out of the Long Island Rail Road,” Lhota said. “Our riders deserve more.”

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