Testimony of the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council
to the Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
on Proposed Service Restorations
August 27, 2013
Good Evening. My name is William Henderson. I am here to speak on behalf of the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council (LIRRCC), the legislatively mandated representatives of the Long Island Rail Road
I am here this evening to speak on the plan to restore half-hourly service on the Port Washington Branch, as well as to restore weekend service between Ronkonkoma and Greenport on approximately 10 additional weekends per year. We support these proposals, but we want to be clear that this does not complete the job of restoring the ill-advised service cuts that were made in 2010.
These proposals are clearly justified. The establishment of service every thirty minutes during midday weekday hours and on weekends was a major step forward for riders on the Port Washington Branch. When the LIRR made budget-driven service cuts resulting in hourly service, riders voted with their feet by seeking other forms of transportation, resulting in stunning ridership declines. These cuts were clearly a mistake, and this service restoration is consistent with the LIRRCC’s support of expanding ridership through providing Long Island communities with convenient, affordable service.
We likewise support the limited restoration of weekend service on the Greenport Branch. When this service was cut, we noted that the flow of weekend visitors east of Ronkonkoma continues beyond the end of weekend service in the early fall, and that area residents need weekend service throughout the year. The limited restoration proposed here is a starting point toward fully restoring the service that this area deserves, but more needs to be done.
We also want to be clear that these actions do not restore all of the service that was cut during the budget difficulties of 2010. Weekend West Hempstead Branch service and overnight Atlantic Terminal service, to cite two examples, remain missing from the schedule. We believe that the West Hempstead service is needed to support development underway in this area and that the extension of Atlantic Terminal service in response to particular large events at the Barclays Center does not adequately address the transportation issues of those who spend the evening in Brooklyn before returning to Long Island.
Cutting service is not the solution to the MTA and LIRR’s problems. We believe that the future of the LIRR is in providing the quality and quantity of service that allow it to take full advantage of its resources. We welcome these proposals as a step toward this objective.