Long Island Rail Road commuters endured packed trips into Manhattan on Monday after the MTA reduced service.
Photos posted to Twitter showed riders standing shoulder to shoulder on some trains. Complainants placed blame squarely on the MTA’s decision to slash service.
“Thank you @MTA for reducing the @LIRR schedule, now we can all get closer to each other and spread the virus once again…,” one commuter posted along with a shot of a standing-room-only train car.
“You should be ashamed @LIRR,” posted user @IAM_clark. “I understand the need to adjust schedules. This is unacceptable. COVID-19 is still a threat & ppl are not willing to sit next to one another.”
LIRR ridership remains 75 percent below pre-pandemic levels, according to the MTA.
The agency has defended Monday’s “service adjustments” as a necessary cost-cutting measure that will also hasten construction on railroad projects.
Politicians and commuters on Long Island, however, warned that the cuts could lead to crowding during peak travel times.
“When I cautioned [MTA Chairman] Pat Foye at the Transportation budget hearing about cutting service during this pandemic, he said its because ridership is down and the cars are empty,” tweeted State Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Nassau) along with photos of the crowds.
“Look at these pictures @lirr and return service back to Long Island NOW!” Thomas said.
LIRR President Phil Eng acknowledged the service reductions had led to “sporadic and isolated incidents of crowding on a few trains in the morning rush,” and promised to add trains for Monday’s evening commute.
“We are working to increase capacity by adding trains where possible during those heavier ridership times,” Eng said in a statement.
Speaking to WCBS 880 on Monday, Foye said the coming influx of $6.5 billion from the federal government will prevent future service cuts. He promised to return LIRR service in the future.
“We expect service will come back and frankly on Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North, the next service adjustments will be up,” Foye said.
“We’re going to monitor that closely but the next service adjustments on Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North, assuming ridership comes back — which we are confident it will, it’s just a question of when — will be increases in service.”
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