Mixed Feelings as ‘Summer of Hell’ Starts for LIRR

LIRR riders arrive in Long Beach (Photo by Joe Abate)

By Suzanne Monteverdi

Long Island Rail Road riders had some conflicting emotions Monday morning walking into what was dubbed the “Summer of Hell” for New York City commuters.

Beginning July 10, long-anticipated emergency repair work on Penn Station tracks conducted by Amtrak will impact an estimated 10,000 LIRR customers who ride during peak hours in the form of train cancellations and disruptions, according to the MTA. The repair work is expected to affect peak hours through Friday, Sept. 1.

Riders had mixed emotions about the much-hyped service disruptions.

Tish Mouzalas, who works part time in Manhattan, said she doesn’t think the work will impact her commute. However, she has heard concerns from her daughter, who lives in Woodside and takes the 7 train into Manhattan to work every day.

“I think everybody’s worried about it,” she said. “[My daughter] is concerned that people are going to be getting off and hopping on the 7 train, which is going to affect her and her commute … And I think some people are probably concerned about having to possibly commute to Hunters Point to get their train.”

Anthony, a 35-year LIRR rider, said he will instead take the bus to Flushing and the 7 train into Manhattan most days this summer to avoid the congestion. This will add about 30 minutes to his commute each way.

“I’m not too hopeful that it won’t continue to be the ‘Fall from Hell,’” said the Bayside resident.

Jane, another Bayside resident who usually takes the 9:44 a.m. train daily, was unaware that the construction work was happening.

“The evening is already packed,” she said, concerned by the news.

A nearby customer turned to her traveling companion upon descending to the platform and said, “So far so good.”

The MTA has encourage riders to plan ahead for the track work, use travel alternatives, take advantage of discounts and sign up for MTA alerts during the summer construction work.

In an open letter to LIRR riders, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said the transportation corporation “has worked hand-in-hand with the Penn Station Task Force to prepare a comprehensive transportation plan” and reminds customers that the construction work is being conducted on Amtrak tracks.

“All of us at the MTA appreciate that Amtrak’s repairs are a serious inconvenience,” Lhota writes. “When our daily commutes become so routine they’re second nature, changes and disruptions can be frustrating. During this period of adjustment to the summer schedule, please bear in mind these are Amtrak repairs that are causing this disruption.”

If you plan on riding the LIRR during peak hours this summer, visit this website for more information.