Urgent and overdue track repair at Penn Station is forcing Amtrak to completely shut down tracks for weeks at a time in July and August. On Monday, the MTA outlined its contingency plans for the nearly 10,000 LIRR commuters who will be affected by service changes and disruptions in what Governor Andrew Cuomo has already christened the “summer of hell.”
The cornerstone of the MTA’s plan is basically: Brace yourself. The agency is going to add transportation options, including ferry service from Glen Cove and Long Island City and bus service (with some food and beverages!) from eight park-and-ride locations on Long Island. The MTA will also increase the number of cars on certain trains and reduce overnight tolls on MTA roads and bridges to ease congestion during rush hour for commuters who’d rather take their chances driving. But even with these solutions, delays, disruptions, and desperate pleas to spare you from this hell are all but inevitable. The MTA is even starting an awareness campaign that will “include letters to employers encouraging flexible work hour and locations.”
The MTA will significantly reduce weekday rush-hour service, canceling at least seven trains and rerouting others so that they originate or end in Queens at Jamaica or Hunterspoint Avenue, or at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, reports NBC 4, where riders can complete their commutes by sampling subway delays instead. The agency will also cancel three overnight trains between 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. To compensate, the MTA will add some peak rush-hour trains — with those extra cars — to accommodate riders affected by cancellations. And LIRR riders will be forced to shell out the same amount for reduced service, as the MTA has, so far, ruled out fare reductions and isn’t even entirely sure how it will pay for all these contingency plans, says the New York Post. All these schedule adjustments will go into effect after July 7, when the Penn Station repairs are slated to begin. The revised timetables are expected later Monday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo also announced Monday that he ordered the MTA to finish major bridge and tunnel construction by July 8, apparently anticipating that more New York City employees will opt to drive into and out of the city. Such news was greeted in some corners with the appropriate amount of incredulity because the subway:
The MTA’s Penn Station plans also happen to come on the heels of a class-action lawsuit filed against the agency. LIRR commuters are suing the MTA for emotional distress brought on by repeated delays and cancellations, and for negligence and breach of contract. The suit is seeking damages, attorney’s fees, and refunds of monthly LIRR passes, which, good luck.