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Letter: LIRR uses modern communications

An LIRR commuter waits at the Long Beach

An LIRR commuter waits at the Long Beach station. (Jan. 19, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Your editorial "MTA tries, but isn't there yet" [Feb. 28] misses the mark by failing to acknowledge the significant strides the Long Island Rail Road has made in recent years to improve customer communication and operations daily, during both minor and major service disruptions.

During superstorm Sandy and the Feb. 8 Nemo blizzard, the LIRR successfully implemented a strategy to restore as much service as possible, as quickly as possible, while keeping customers fully informed, using new tools like pre-published modified schedules. Our employees worked tirelessly and around the clock to clear switches and track. In the aftermath of Sandy and Nemo, the LIRR restored vital connections quickly so Long Islanders could get back to work.

Day to day, our public information office, staffed by communication specialists around the clock, issues thousands of train-specific text alerts -- 11,715 last year -- to more than 40,000 subscribers, while also updating our website and making station announcements. We also provide regular media briefings to keep the public better informed.

We have improved the quality of information on our electronic station signs by adding more timing points along the LIRR right-of-way to better capture train movements. If a train is late, it is automatically reported via the public address and signage systems.

In addition, we have used social media including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to keep customers up to date and to answer their concerns and questions. In 2012, for instance, there were 1,953 posts with 533,345 views on Facebook and 5,053 Twitter updates. Our Travel Information Center has won national awards for customer service while handling 1.2 million calls last year. And there were more than 20.9 million visits to the LIRR's schedules and fares Web page.

Helena Williams, Jamaica

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the Long Island Rail Road.