LIRR president Phillip Eng during a New York State Senate...

LIRR president Phillip Eng during a New York State Senate Standing Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions and Senate Standing Committee on Transportation joint public hearing. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Old data belie LIRR progress since May

Long Island Rail Road customers have stopped me on trains and emailed to say they appreciate the major improvements we have made to customer communications in the 11 months I’ve been president of the LIRR. I’m humbled by that support and pleased to hear it, because improving the information we give customers — providing actionable information earlier, at the point of decision-making — has been a top priority under the LIRR Forward program I initiated in May.

So I was disappointed that Newsday published a misleading front-page headline, “State comptroller audit: Info lacking for LIRR riders” [News, March 12], based on a state comptroller’s audit that used old data to leave the impression that the communications challenges we have made great progress in fixing are ongoing. To be clear, the state audit and your headline used data collected between 2015 and 2017.

In fact, the improvements we’ve made to customer communication since May are attracting notice. Customers have told me how much they love our new online train finder,, which enables one to see the exact position and length of upcoming trains in real time, powered by newly installed GPS devices. We’ve also launched countdown clocks, displaying how many minutes until the next train will arrive, and updated procedures for our service alerts to relay news of events before delays begin to occur, not merely describing delays after they’ve begun. This approach earned us praise for timely, robust communications to customers on all channels during the Feb. 26 grade-crossing collision that caused Main Line service to be limited for several rush hours.

We’re proud of these achievements and we know there’s a lot more work to be done. It’s important to know that decades’ worth of challenges caused by historic underinvestment in the LIRR won’t be solved overnight. The real story here is that the LIRR is listening, and making changes based on our customers’ concerns.

Phillip Eng, Jamaica

Two perspectives on cross-endorsements

Newsday’s editorial board should be applauded for again expressing its belief that the practice of cross-endorsements in elections in New York State should be stopped [“Restore integrity to the ballot,” Editorial, March 10]. This opinion has been echoed in other New York newspapers recently.

The ability to run on multiple party lines, fusion voting, can create an incentive for candidates and their supporters to act in unethical and illegal ways to claim as many party lines as possible with or without the knowledge of other parties. This was illustrated in December when two Suffolk County elections employees were accused of seeking to use petitions with forged signatures to get Republican candidates on Green Party ballot lines.

Fusion voting also gives undue power to party bosses and political deal-makers, leads to corruption, increases unhealthy patronage and limits voter choice. It disproportionately hurts minor parties and distorts elections, dilutes what third parties stand for, and leads to the betrayal of party members and party principles.

Newsday should back up its stand by pledging not to endorse any candidate who runs on multiple party lines in the general election.

Roger Snyder, Huntington

Editor’s note: The writer is chairman of the Green Party of Suffolk County.

Your editorial condemning the nomination of the same candidates by both major parties is spot-on! What, other than a backroom deal, could get both Republicans and Democrats to nominate the same candidates for three countywide offices?

But your proposed solution — to ban all cross-endorsements — goes too far. The minor parties that can run their own candidates or cross-endorse a major party candidate have roles to play. They help keep major parties focused on their basic ideologies and the interests of their core voters.

One way to eliminate major parties running the same candidate but still allow fusion voting in which minor parties can cross-endorse would be to prohibit parties that received at least 25 percent of the vote in the last gubernatorial election from running the same candidate for the same position in future elections. That would solve the problem your editorial identified without changing anything else.

Peter Gollon, Huntington

Seniors need local affordable housing

Your Feb. 28 news story “Building business,” about robust building activity in Suffolk County, omitted a key detail: the monthly rental cost and fees for the senior living facility being built in Sayville.

The lack of affordable rental apartments on Long Island is the reason for the high cost and scarcity of housing. Our children have left to raise their own families, and my wife and I would gladly sell our house and move back to an apartment. However, the monthly rents I see in Newsday that are called affordable are about $2,000 or more. That cost does not fit into our tight Social Security budget.

John Wolf, Levittown

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