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

2020 was a year to remember and a year full of unprecedented challenges. Heroes across so many walks of life rose to the occasion including our own LIRR workforce to meet them head on. I’m proud to say that the LIRR has never been safer, cleaner or more reliable than it is today. Last year we implemented Positive Train Control across our territory, accomplished record infrastructure state of good repair work, implemented industry leading sanitization efforts, and saw strong mask compliance from our riders. Essential workers have been safely riding the LIRR throughout the pandemic and now we are seeing ridership tick up.

This is a direct result of everyone’s commitment to beating the virus and now with  more and more vaccinations, we are working with communities as they look to rebound. Restaurants are staying open later with expanding capacity, as businesses reimagine their workplace, workers are returning, destinations are welcoming folks back, and sport fans can again root for the home team in person; and throughout all of this, the LIRR continues to run and serve the returning ridership.

Those who have been riding know better: no need to sit in traffic, or to worry about parking, leaving the driving to us.

We’ve made it easier than ever for you, too: with a host of industry leading user-friendly features, our innovative LIRR TrainTime app can be used before and during your trip, to help you find the least crowded trains and the least crowded cars – so you can feel as comfortable as possible. And no phone, no problem, this information is now available on our platform signs.

So as riders come back you will see we’ve been hard at work continuing to rebuild a new railroad for Long Island. Third Track and East Side Access continue to progress and when complete will allow us to better support returning ridership in more ways than ever before on this railroad in its 187-year history. This will prove invaluable in serving changing ridership patterns and successful transit-oriented development that’s surging across the Island.

Prior to the pandemic, we continuously broke ridership records with significant growth in discretionary travel – and we have faith that ridership will continue to grow and build up as more and more people get vaccinated allowing everyone to get out and enjoy all that Long Island and New York have to offer.

I’m glad to see that customers remain vigilant by wearing a mask while at our stations, on our platforms, and aboard our trains, for the duration of their trip. And if you forgot yours or need another, don’t worry we have them available at our ticket windows and continue to hand them out for free. This ensures the safety of our customers, of their fellow passengers, and of our employees.

We’re committed to doing everything we can to keep essential workers moving during this entire pandemic, and we’re excited to welcome back more customers who are beginning to commute to work again, or those who simply want to use us to get to leisure destinations across the Island and New York City.

So get out of your cars, help the environment, join us and #TaketheTrain. We look forward to having you back!

Phillip Eng is president of the MTA Long Island Rail Road.

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