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State lawmakers pen letter to LIRR president: You're on alert now

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State lawmakers pen letter to LIRR president: You're on alert now

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In a letter sent Thursday to LIRR president Phillip Eng, seven state senators informed the railroad chief of their intention to hold public hearings about on-time performances.

Video: https://www.newsday.com/long-island/transportation/senator-kaminsky-letter-eng-lirr-1.26055834?fbclid=IwAR3HeHMA9PW1sLwZHVNNRiXaIYKJzfvobajr1yrWwXEQViR3wmZVYrbOJsI

Democratic state senators gathered Thursday at the LIRR Rockville Centre station to discuss plans to hold hearings on the railroad’s “subpar” performances. (Credit: Newsday / Alfonso Castillo)

By Alfonso A. Castillo

alfonso.castillo@newsday.com  @alfonsoreports Updated January 17, 2019 6:25 PM

 

A group of state lawmakers plans to hold hearings regarding the Long Island Rail Road’s on-time performances, which they described as “subpar and in desperate need of thorough review.”

In a letter sent Thursday to LIRR president Phillip Eng, seven state senators, including the chairs of the Senate Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions and the Transportation Committee, informed the railroad chief of their intention to hold the hearings and to “invite and encourage” his participation.

“Statistics reveal what commuters know quite well — that the LIRR's recent performance is subpar and in desperate need of thorough review and revamping,” the senators wrote in the letter. “In light of the legislature’s role in funding the MTA’s budget, as well as fulfilling our role as representatives of the riders who rely on your service, we intend to exercise our oversight authority in an effort to seek collaborative solutions to remedy an unsustainable situation.”

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Speaking at the Rockville Centre LIRR station Thursday morning, Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), who has led LIRR reform efforts in Albany, said the letter to the LIRR aims to make clear the new Democratic majority Senate aims to “hold its feet to the fire” — something, he said, previous legislatures did not do.

“That changes now. From day one, you’re on alert now, LIRR,” said Kaminsky, who was joined by newly elected senators Anna Kaplan (D-North Hempstead) and Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown). “We’re going to be asking what your plans are. We’re going to make sure that every dollar you spend is done efficiently and smartly. We’re going to make sure that there’s people that you actually answer to — that it’s not going to be just a nameless, faceless bureaucracy.”

The senators' call follows a particularly difficult year for the LIRR, which through November, was on pace to record its worst annual on-time performance in nearly two decades. In the first 11 months of 2018, delays exceeded the previous year by more than 3,000. The number of trains canceled and average length of delays also grew significantly.

The new year got off to a rough start, as the LIRR found itself investigating two train derailments in the first week of 2019. The LIRR also has dealt with numerous delays caused by signal problems and broken rails, all while reducing scheduled rush-hour service to Penn Station to accommodate construction work.

Source: https://www.newsday.com/long-island/transportation/senator-kaminsky-letter-eng-lirr-1.26055834?fbclid=IwAR2vfNVICy8F1P_UDBZND4jrpP3EPfsMPHMkJIneH_CHDiOtiyZFgWXjKV4

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