The recent pre-Christmas blizzard tested not only the capability of the LIRR to deal with this emergency, but the patience of the riding public who had to endure the problems created by the Rail Road’s response.
Early Sunday morning (December 20th), Train 8004 bound for Ronkonkoma became disabled, leaving passengers for hours (the length of time from departure to arrival was over 6 hours) without heat, only emergency lighting and no working restrooms. Furthermore, passengers on Train 8004 complained (to media outlets that actually reached the train) that they were not informed on what was happening.
In addition, the Rail Road failed to provide an acceptable level of information on the status of operations to its customers generally. For example, the 31,000 subscribers to the LIRR’s email alert system received no service alert messages about current train service and schedules between 10:43 AM and 5:53 PM on that Sunday. While the LIRR maintains that it was disseminating information about conditions and operations through the press, little information at a level of detail necessary for specific travel decisions was available through news outlets. News12 reporting, in fact, was mostly about the pleas for help from stranded passengers and the lack of onboard communications.
Also, there appears to have been no effort by the Rail Road to notify passengers on some trains that once they reached their destinations there would be no taxi or public bus service available. Passengers were literally stranded at stations during blizzard conditions.
The LIRRCC considers the Long Island Rail Road’s response to the problems experienced during this past weekend’s winter storm inadequate and as a result the Council calls upon Governor David A. Paterson and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Inspector General Barry L. Kluger to launch an independent investigation and review of the Rail Road’s storm response plans and procedures, its performance in carrying out those plans and procedures, and the adequacy of the Rail Road’s crisis communications with its customers during service disruptions caused by storm events and other emergencies.