July 18, 2013
Following a Series of Amtrak-Related Service Issues
Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council Urges Naming of a
Commuter Rail Rider to Amtrak Board of Directors
Once again on the evening of July 17, Long Island Rail Road riders were adversely impacted in the Amtrak-owned and maintained East River tunnels. This disruption follows on the heels of a train derailment in Amtrak’s East River tunnels one month earlier, which was caused by defective Amtrak equipment. Once again, the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council (LIRRCC) is demanding a full investigation of the incident, including identification of actions that will make similar incidents less likely to happen in the future. Unfortunately, information on causes and preventative measures related to these incidents has generally proven unsatisfying to the riders.
The Long Island Rail Road is the primary user of the East River tunnels, which is the only way to directly access New York Penn Station from Long Island. Penn Station and its facilities, including its elevators, escalators and concourses, are also owned and controlled by Amtrak. Although LIRR riders make up the bulk of users of these facilities, they are not represented when decisions are made about Amtrak’s management of the tunnels, which are the lifeblood of the Long Island Rail Road’s operations.
Amtrak is overseen by a federally appointed Board. Legislation establishing Amtrak provides that the Board is to include seven appointees, which may include “representatives of employees or users of passenger rail transportation.” The LIRRCC hereby urges that the currently vacant seat on the Board be filled by a representative of commuter rail riders.
“New York rail commuters who rely on Penn Station are at the mercy of Amtrak, and their interests, perspective, and voice need to be heard and reflected in Amtrak’s governance. The best way to accomplish this is to name a commuter rail user to Amtrak’s Board” said Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council Chair Mark Epstein. “Having a commuter rail user on its Board can only enhance communication between Amtrak and the riders. Our goal is an efficient, smoothly functioning rail system that serves both long distance train passengers and everyday commuters.”