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EDITORIAL: Getting around Long Island in blizzard was frightful

Leaving home during a chart-topping snowstorm can be difficult and dangerous - most avoided travel, shopping, or efforts to deliver charitable donations of food and toys last weekend. The blizzard took its toll.

But even given the magnitude of the storm, Long Island Rail Road riders might have fared better. More than 150 people were stranded east of Wyandanch early Sunday morning for several hours - without heat, food, water or functioning toilets. Many said they didn't receive status updates - although LIRR officials deny that. The railroad is rightly investigating.

The LIRR says that the train's engine shut down when snow blew into the electrical works. After a repair effort failed, a tow engine was dispatched. The two measures should have been put in motion simultaneously. Passenger well-being should be that important. There are also long-term solutions: A second track on the Ronkonkoma branch, which is part of the LIRR's capital budget, would have speeded the rescue. And the agency should consider replacing these oft-failing diesel trains.

Commuters logged hours-long delays yesterday morning. Would-be train riders from Greenport shuffled onto a bus. Many parking areas weren't adequately plowed - the fault of overburdened counties, towns and villages.

Mostly, Long Island weathered this storm well. But with a little more preparation, the next time should be smoother. hN