OpEd: Keeping the Long Island Rail Road Working For You

rail road
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Safe, reliable, robust, and accessible to all — those are four main goals we strive for each day as we carry hundreds of thousands of people across New York City and Long Island.

Coming on the heels of the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we’re celebrating the third year of our successful LIRR Care customer service program, which to date has assisted more than 6,500 riders. Under this initiative, customers at three of our busiest hubs (Penn Station, Atlantic Terminal, and Jamaica Station) can get assistance to board their trains in real-time from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Those in need simply head to the Customer Service Office at Penn, or the Ticket Office at Jamaica or Atlantic Terminal at least 15 minutes before a train’s departure time, and an ambassador provides individualized assistance with the journey.

Anyone needing help at other stations can give us a call anytime, 24 hours a day, at 718-574-7227 at least two hours before a train’s scheduled departure time with departure details. A dispatcher will alert the train crew, so they can place a bridge plate between the train and the platform to help with wheelchair boarding or other mobility needs.

We’re working hard to make our railroad as inclusive as possible. Three brand new elevators recently opened at Floral Park Station as part of the LIRR Expansion Project, bringing the total number of fully accessible LIRR stations to 108, or 87% of our system.

While we’re proud of this progress, we’re not stopping there. There are another 16 stations (of the LIRR’s total 124) that need to be upgraded and outfitted with accessibility components, and I’m committed to closing these gaps and fulfilling my promise to make each and every station accessible to all.

In the meantime, it’s easier than ever to find an accessible station near you. The LIRR TrainTime app has a host of accessibility features and information available to make trips as easy as possible. Customers can access elevator and escalator locations and their status in real-time throughout the entire system.

And for our visually impaired customers, we’ve enabled a screen reading feature, as well as large font support.

The LIRR welcomes all aboard our trains, and I’m grateful to each and every one of you who trusts us to get where you need to go. Long Island needs a strong railroad to carry us through recovery from the pandemic, and it’s only right that everyone should be able to take part in that revival.

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

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