Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) workers plan to strike at midnight Sunday, shutting down the nation’s largest commuter railroad and stranding about 300,000 daily commuters after contract negotiations with the MTA failed.
The unions want 17 percent raises over six years for more than 5,000 LIRR workers, who have been working without a contract since 2010. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposed 17 percent raises over seven years following months of negotiations but also want LIRR workers to contribute 2 percent to their health plans. Barring a last-minute deal, the expected strike leaves LIRR riders looking for other ways to get to and from work in New York City amid extra heavy traffic.
“I regret to report that negotiations have collapsed with the MTA, and all eight unions are now proceeding with strike plans for July 20,” Anthony Simon, the general chairman of the Sheet Metal, Rail, Air and Transportation Union, said Monday in a press release after the latest round of talks.
“If we were to accept this deal on their terms it would put additional pressure on both the fare increases that we have projected in the financial plan and pressure on funding for the capital program, both of which are exceptionally important to the MTA,” Thomas Prendergast, the chairman of the MTA, told reporters during a a press conference Monday.
The strike will not affect suburban buses such as Suffolk County Transit, the Nassau Inter County Express (NICE), subways or other railroads such as Metro-North Rail Road, Amtrak or New Jersey Transit. If it happens, it will be the first LIRR strike in 20 years.
The Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council (LIRRCC) was especially disappointed. “The impact of the failure of both sides to reach an amicable resolution will be felt throughout the Long Island and regional economies,” LIRRCC Chair Mark Epstein said in a statement, urging the MTA to immediately inform riders if the strike will impact service before Sunday.
For those who can’t take time off, telecommute or stay closer to work, the MTA will provide other transportation services to and from the city under its strike contingency plan. Since officials across LI criticized the plan as not good enough, the Press compiled the following list of alternative transportation options.
The MTA contingency plan:
The MTA will use 350 buses to bring commuters to subway stations in Queens from Nassau Community College (NCC) and seven LIRR stations on Long Island. Westbound buses will run 4 to 7 a.m., and eastbound buses will run 3 to 7 p.m. Disabled commuters will also be able to use Access-A-Ride vehicles at these locations.
Buses from the Deer Park, Manhasset and Ronkonkoma train stations will connect to the 7 line at Mets-Willets Point / Citi Field.
Buses from NCC and the Bellmore, Freeport and Seaford train stations will connect to the A line at Howard Beach.
Buses from the Hicksville train station will connect to the M and R lines at Woodhaven Boulevard.
A free ferry service will take travelers from Glen Cove to East 34th Street in Midtown. The ferry will make three trips into the city in the morning and three trips back to LI at night.
The MTA will also set up park-and-ride locations at Citi Field and Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, as well as carpool parking lots at Belmont State Park, Farmingdale State College, Heckscher State Park, Sunken Meadow State Park County, Bethpage State Park, Hempstead Lake State Park and Valley Stream State Park.
The High Occupancy Vehicle lane on the Long Island Expressway will require three people in a vehicle instead of the usual two.
Alternatives to the MTA contingency plan:
Commuters can take the (NICE) bus to the subway. A bus ride costs $2.25 with coins (Dollar bills are not accepted), and a subway or bus ride costs $2.50 with a MetroCard.
Take the n20/21 bus to the 7 line at Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing. Take the n31/32 bus or the n33 bus to the A line on Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway. Take the n4 bus to the E, J, and Z lines at the Jamaica Center on Parsons Boulevard and Archer Avenue in Jamaica. Or take the n1 bus, the n6 bus, the n22/A bus, the n24 bus, or the n26 bus to the F line at 179 Street and Hillside Avenue in Jamaica.
Passengers can also use coach bus services to get to Manhattan. However, riders need to make reservations.
One service, 7Bus, offers trips from Riverhead, Ronkonkoma, Melville and Stony Brook University to three stops on 3rd Avenue between 40th and 59th Streets. Passengers can get picked up to go back to the island at three stops on Lexington Avenue between 59th and 40th Streets. One-way fares run $8 to $16 for per passenger.
Similarly, Bolt Bus can take commuters from Riverhead, Ronkonkoma, and Huntington to 3rd Avenue and 40th or 59th Street. To return to LI, take a Bolt Bus from Lexington Avenue and 40th or 59th Street.
Hampton Jitney buses go from Amagansett, East Hampton, Wainscott, Bridgehampton, Water Mill, Southampton, and Manorville to Lower Manhattan and back. There are three drop-off sites on 2nd Avenue between 22nd and 9th Streets, as well as stops at Pearl Street and Fulton Street, Water Street and Broad Street, and State Street and Battery Place. Tickets cost about $30 one way per passenger, or $28 prepaid online.
Hampton Luxury Liner buses pick up from Amagansett, East Hampton, Wainscott, Bridgehampton, Water Mill, and Southampton. Going to Manhattan, there are five stops on 3rd Avenue between 40th and 86th Streets. Coming from Manhattan, there are five stops on Lexington Avenue between 40th and 86th Streets. Fares are $40 per one-way trip.
511NY, a transit information service from the state Department of Transportation, offers a program called Rideshare with which travelers can find people with whom to carpool.
For those who plan on driving into Manhattan, the Queensboro, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges are all toll-free. The Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg bridges connect Brooklyn from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to lower Manhattan. The Queensboro Bridge, the last exit on the LIE before the Midtown Tunnel, links Queens and the east side of Midtown Manhattan. The Queens-Midtown Tunnel costs $7.50 in cash or $5.33 with an E-ZPass.
The Town of North Hempstead will open up parking spaces at North Hempstead Beach Park and iPark on Union Turnpike in New Hyde Park.
Then there’s the option of using a car, taxi, or limousine service. There are a ton of businesses from which to choose, but it won’t be cheap. For example, a one-way trip from Garden City to Penn Station for one person in a sedan from the Dial7 Car & Limousine Service costs about $57.
For those who can telecommute but do not wish to stay at home, Nassau will open a temporary telecommuting office at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage. Space will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. To reserve a desk, call 516-573-9792.