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Phillip Eng

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LIRR Keeps Up With Growing Demand While Protecting Riders

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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OpEd: Be A Hero By Wearing Your Mask In Public

A United States Postal Service (USPS) mail carrier pushes his cart while delivering mail in the rain on Manhattan's Upper West Side during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., April 13, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Doctors. Nurses. Transportation workers. Grocery and pharmacy staff. And you.

What do we all have in common? Yes, some of us are heroes and others of us mere mortals, but we all can do our part in overcoming this crisis.

We know that there’s no proven playbook for this. But we also know there are things that work: Washing your hands. Using hand sanitizer. Staying home unless you absolutely need to travel. Feeling sick? Stay home.

Now we need everyone to go one step further: When you’re on public transportation, you must wear a face covering.

That’s an order from the governor. It’s important. It can be a mask, a bandana, a scarf. Whatever kind of cloth it is, it must cover your mouth and nose and it must stay there for the entire duration of your trip. If you’re at a station or on a platform, wear it there, too.

As we all prepare for what’s to come next, we must embrace this necessary part of public health and safety. And it’s up to all of us to play our part.

For the LIRR, that means keeping up with increased disinfecting of our stations – right now we’re getting to each of our 124 stations twice per day. Train cars are also getting increased attention: round-the-clock efforts are getting to our entire fleet of more than 1,000 train cars each day.

We do this to meet our goal of giving riders as much comfort as possible when they need to use our system to get to their jobs. This is a dynamic situation, and we’ve all been forced to be dynamic along with it.

But we can’t be reckless, and we can’t let the virus get ahead again. It’s more important than ever that we show and share compassion for one another. While we all may be affected by this virus in different ways, we must remember the importance of community and watch out for each other.

Long Island, NYC, and the entire region will undoubtedly be changed – but we’re doing everything we can to ensure that our customers and employees feel safe when it’s time to reopen. While we come up with a blueprint for future service, we ask that you continue to do your part by wearing a mask and practicing good hygiene. The future of our region depends on how we act. Let’s do so responsibly and with care.

During times of great stress and uncertainty, we all need to practice more patience with ourselves and with each other. But as we see the curve continue to flatten, this gives me confidence that New York will rebound – stronger and more resilient than ever before.

Phillip Eng is president of the Long Island Rail Road.

This OpEd first appeared in on amny.com

For more editorials visit longislandpress.com/category/perspectives

Sign up for Long Island Press’ email newsletters hereSign up for home delivery of Long Island Press here. Sign up for discounts by becoming a Long Island Press community partner here.

LIRR President: We Miss Our Customers, Too

LIRR Train Driver
A lone passenger boards a Long Island Rail Road train in Long Beach (Joe Abate).

“We miss you @LIRR #commute #NYtough” tweeted @LBMTY.  

I couldn’t have said that better, and it’s mutual. My colleagues and I at the Long Island Rail Road miss the 95 percent of our riders who have been unable to ride with us the last few weeks.

While I am so proud of what the LIRR managers and workforce continue to do, I can’t overstate how we are all praying for our colleagues that are currently battling the virus themselves, and with a heavy heart remember our MTA brothers and sisters that have succumbed to this deadly disease.  The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis that’s been brought right to our front doors, our train stations, and other places that have always been routine stops in what was our normal days. New York City and Long Island are the epicenters of this pandemic.

Yet every day our brave workforce is battling to honor their colleagues and move essential workers to save lives. They are “heroes moving heroes” — doctors, nurses, pharmacists, first responders, grocery store workers, utility and childcare employees, and transportation workers to name a few who literally went from family providers to heroes in a week last month.  They have performed so admirably against an invisible enemy.   

“Thanks! I work in a hospital pharmacy & have to take LIRR to NYC everyday and weekend!” tweeted @Daniella.         

Frontline conductors, engineers, ambassadors, station cleaners and behind-the-scene maintenance and cleaning crews, safety team, communications team, HR and managers; all working tirelessly, seven days a week. These are the most important rides we have provided in our history. The selfless efforts of the entire dedicated LIRR workforce and colleagues across MTA will be forever part of history. The tremendous uncertainty and pain that we feel, like others across the world, have been met with strength and compassion demonstrated by our actions.  

Christina tweeted, “Never thought I’d say this, but I actually miss the @LIRR trains.”  

Yes, Christina, there is light at the end of the (Penn Station) tunnel. We miss you too. The men and women of the LIRR are here for you.

The curve is flattening. Stay the course. We are all New York Tough!

Phillip Eng is president of the Long Island Rail Road.

This editorial first appeared in amNewYork.

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For more coronavirus coverage visit longislandpress.com/coronavirus

OpEd: LIRR Steps Up Efforts To Keep Riders Safe from COVID-19

A Car Appearance Maintainer with the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) demonstrates the disinfecting methods of a train car from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Hicksville Station on Long Island in New York, U.S., March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

At the Long Island Rail Road, our team has experience handling all types of situations: from hurricanes to power outages to managing massive amounts of infrastructure expansion. 

Pandemic? Not so much. But our workforce is rising to the challenge. 

As we adapt to this rapidly changing public health crisis, we cannot forget the thousands of transportation workers across the MTA’s agencies: the LIRR, Metro-North Railroad, and New York City Transit, who are working hard each day to keep our system open and safe for those who need to use it. 

Our workforce is on the frontlines, playing a key role in the response to this pandemic. We are making sure we are here for the heroes of this crisis, which include our own employees, as well as the nurses, the doctors, the police and first responders, the grocery store, pharmacy and transportation workers, and so many others who are helping us live. 

Together with our labor partners, we’re ensuring that employees and customers alike remain safe, as we maintain an aggressive, ramped-up cleaning schedule, disinfecting stations across the system twice daily, and getting to each one of our train cars (more than 1,000) at least once every 72 hours. 

Read the full OpEd at amNewYork.com

Eng is president of the Long Island Rail Road.

LIRR President: Progress Being Made at Your Stations

LIRR Train Driver
A lone passenger boards a Long Island Rail Road train in Long Beach (Joe Abate).

Did you know the Long Island Rail Road owns and operates on 516 miles of track? That’s not including an additional 110 miles of track in our yards and sidings.

Our complex infrastructure includes countless signal systems, switches, track circuits, and more all of which need to be maintained for smooth operations. For 2020, we have laid out an aggressive schedule to tackle even more maintenance so we stay on top of what’s needed to deliver the service our customers deserve.

Indeed, the LIRR is coming off a 2019 filled with improvements: from an unprecedented amount of maintenance and construction work and carrying modern-record ridership while still delivering on-time performance gains — to launching new customer-service initiatives, and increasing customer and community outreach.

We continued that trend of success last month, when we posted the highest January on-time performance since 2012.

I want to let you know that we are not resting on these numbers we’ve only just begun.

This will mark another year of major infrastructure and capital accomplishments, all while we strive to improve customer service for our ridership at 91.1 million, and growing.

In the first six weeks of the year, we’ve already accomplished several critical tasks: seven new switches installed; four miles of track resurfaced; constructing north track siding in Hicksville; and, on the Atlantic Branch, approximately 20,000 feet of continuous welded rail, while also supporting the LIRR Expansion Project, and Amtrak’s improvements at Penn Station. Other major projects that we support, like East Side Access and Moynihan Train Hall, remain steadfastly underway.

Read the full column at amny.com

Phillip Eng is president of the MTA Long Island Rail Road

LIRR President: What’s Going On At Your Station?

LIRR's diesel electric No. 421 passing the site of the former Bayport Station on the Montauk Line on Nov. 27, 2010. (Photo by Lexcie)

Editor’s note: The MTA Long Island Rail Road is beginning a monthly column featured in amNewYork Metro focused on LIRR issues and improvements, written by Phillip Eng, the railroad’s president. 

Since joining the Long Island Rail Road, my focus has been on improving the customer experience while delivering a safe, reliable and comfortable trip.

I’ve found the best way to do this is to truly listen to our riders. As a native Long Islander, working to improve public transportation for my neighbors is my life’s greatest honor. I want you to know that I take your feedback to heart every single day, and I take our responsibility to make rail travel an attractive choice for commuters very seriously.

I know our LIRR workforce does too. Our workers are embedded in the communities we serve, and we all take pride in knowing that our work impacts hundreds of thousands of people daily. As public servants, it’s our duty to deliver excellence.

Over the last two years we’ve refocused efforts on how to rebuild public trust by delivering results. I’m proud to report LIRR’s on-time performance hit a three-year high in 2019 at 92.4%, while we performed an unprecedented amount of work across the system, all while carrying 91.1 million riders in 2019 – a modern-day record. This trifecta brings momentum we will continue to build on in 2020.

To read the rest of this new monthly column by LIRR President Phillip Eng, visit amNewYork Metro