Long Island Rail Road
Long Island Rail Road riders board a train in Long Beach (Photo by Joseph Abate).

Summertime on Long Island is looking a whole lot different this year. While the days are longer and the air is hotter, the reality is we’re still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re all yearning for a sense of normalcy. But we know this has been a tough road, and this crisis is not over yet. There’s still much to be done as we work together to rebuild and help prevent a second wave.

Last week, NYC had its Phase 1 reopening, while Long Island’s Phase 2 came a few days later. These were milestone days for us all; and the LIRR was prepared for the return of more workers as we increased service to 90% of a normal weekday schedule. We’re monitoring ridership patterns and we’re ready to adjust and flex where possible to support essential workers.

As we ramp up service to coincide with phased reopenings across Long Island and New York City, the LIRR workforce is working around the clock to keep customers and employees safe.

LIRR stations have been cleaned more than 7,400 times since May 1, and LIRR train cars have been cleaned more than 27,300 times. Daily disinfecting and cleaning will continue with all LIRR train cars being sanitized at least once a day and stations at least twice daily.

We saw ridership inch up last week, to more than 28,000 on the first day of NYC’s reopening. As we follow ridership patterns, we’re continuing to urge business leaders across LI and NYC to consider staggering work hours to help with adequate distancing onboard trains.

We deployed more than 100 employees to stations across our system, distributing masks to riders and having NYS Clean hand sanitizing stations available to promote the messages of good hygiene and safe travel. Remember, wearing a mask or face covering is mandatory while riding on public transpiration.

I have great pride and admiration in the LIRR workforce and all they’ve accomplished throughout this pandemic. It is their heroic efforts that have allowed LIRR to move essential workers to bend the curve and save lives. The light at the end of the tunnel is both brighter and closer — and we want you to know if you have to get to work, the LIRR is here for you, and rest assured that your safety and the safety of our workforce will always remain our top priority.

Phillip Eng is president of the Long Island Rail Road.

This OpEd first appeared on amNY.com

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