This is a view of the closed-down escalator at the...

This is a view of the closed-down escalator at the Lindenhurst LIRR station. (March 26, 2012) Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

It's about time.

That was the sentiment several Long Island Rail Road riders expressed Monday about the agency's plan to improve escalator safety.

"It's very sad it has to take somebody to die before they do this," said Brian Lugo, 42, referring to the March 13 death of Irene Bernatzky, 88, who was asphyxiated after she fell on the escalator at the Lindenhurst station and her clothing was entangled in the moving stairs.

Lugo, of Lindenhurst, a disabled construction worker who said he relies on the train to get around, said he stopped using the escalator there because it sometimes would "jerk." He took to the stairs instead, though it hurts his back to make the three-story climb.

John Morrow, 47, also of Lindenhurst, repeated other riders' complaints that the escalator's handrails sometimes were out of sync with the steps, with people getting thrown off-balance.

The escalator also often broke down, he said, recalling how he has helped other riders carry luggage up the long stairs.

At the Massapequa station, where the 22-year-old escalator is the oldest in the LIRR's system, riders said maintenance should be ongoing.

"I think they should upgrade them regardless of whether someone got killed," said Frank Anetrella, 24, a steamfitter from Massapequa. "It's a smart choice."

Nick Greenaway, 47, who works for the New York City Housing Authority, said he drives his mother-in-law, who is 80, to Babylon to catch the train even though she lives near the Lindenhurst station.

The reason? She doesn't want to use the escalator in Lindenhurst, and there is no elevator there.

"We live a block away from the station and I have to drive her all the way to Babylon," Greenaway said. "It's an inconvenience."

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