The “summer of hell” is well under way as construction began yesterday on train tracks at Penn Station and on the ABCD subway line. The MTA is accommodating many commuters with reduced fares and rebates, however many riders of the Long Island Railroad have been left frustrated and without proper compensation for the delays and cancellations, says one state legislator.
The “Rider Rebate” bill sponsored by Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci, calls for reduced fares for Long Island commuters in acknowledgment of the struggles they are facing due to deteriorating tracks and delays.
The delays are the product of a transportation system falling apart at the seams. Failing power grids and signal systems are a large contributor to delays. Train derailments have caused huge delays and even cancellations.
The MTA has provided accommodations for LIRR ticket holders, such as a 25 percent reduced fare to the Atlantic Terminal, Hunterspoint Ave, Long Island City, Nostrand Ave and East New York. It is also providing free bus and ferry transports and free subway transfers, and tolls.
For Lupinacci and many Long Islanders this is not enough. Lupinacci is asking for a 25 percent reduction of the monthly fare for the LIRR. The Monthly LIRR passes can cost between $96 to $500. If the bill is passed, commuters would be given a rebate of between $24 and $125 for their troubles.
“This is not just a transportation issue. Delays and cancellations affect careers, when people are late to work through no fault of their own. It affects lives as hard-working riders miss precious time spent with their families,” Lupinacci said. “Poor and inconsistent LIRR service impacts the quality of life for thousands of Long Islanders. We cannot tolerate inaction any longer.”
The construction on the trains and subway system has been long overdue. In an interview with NY1 Cuomo attributes the cause of the deteriorating system to under investment by the federal government into Amtrak, the public-private railrioad running Penn Station.
“There’s been a long period of under investment, and the tracks are literally crumbling, the way to avoid it would have been to invest in it before it collapsed,” said Cuomo. “Where we are now is they say they need two months to do the emergency repairs.”
Cuomo has invested $8 billion into the Capital Plan along with a promised $1 billion extra to fix the system and restore the tracks. A potential solution is to bring in a private operator to run Penn Station to avoid long-term neglect in the future, Cuomo said.
The construction is costing billions of dollars, so commuters and their advocates in the Legislature believe a portion of the budget should go toward easing the burden of LIRR riders.
“With the worst yet to come, it is time to let Long Islanders know their voices are being heard. The state of New York must respond to this LIRR madness and this bill is the first step in doing so,” Lupinacci said.