Bridging The Gap And Saving Lives

Carl L Marcellino

February 09, 2007

Senator Carl L. Marcellino (R-Syosset) today hosted the New York State Senate Transportation Committee hearing on the Long Island Railroad Platform Gap problems. Investigations into the safety issues and concerns of gaps at all 246 LIRR and Metro-North train stations have been ongoing. This hearing afforded the opportunity to review the status of the investigation and the solutions that will enable the MTA and its constituent agencies to enhance their safety protocols.

"We must do all that we can to make sure that passengers can safely board and disembark from the trains," said Senator Marcellino "The LIRR has been making announcements at the stops to remind riders to "Watch The Gap." These steps were taken while they investigated and reviewed all of the platform gaps to seek a corrective solution," said Senator Marcellino . " It is important for the Committee to now question the status of this investigation and review the recommendations."

"The MTA has a responsibility to address the gap problem and ensure the safety of Long Island commuters," said Senator Dean G. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre). "This Senate hearing is an important step in this process. From my initial request last August, the MTA has had five months to develop a comprehensive set of solutions. The public deserves answers and we will demand results."

"We can't wait for another tragedy before finding a solution to this problem, and the MTA needs to move as quickly as possible to ensure the safety of LIRR passengers" said Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District), Acting Chairman of the Senate's Transportation Committee. "This hearing will allow us to find out why this issue has not yet been resolved, and examine all the options so that we can move forward in helping the MTA correct this problem."

Testimony was offered by Elliot G. Sander Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Long Island Rail Road Acting President Raymond P. Kenny, Metro-North Railroad President Peter A. Cannito, Mr. Jason Hayday and Joris Banning Vice President of Engineering for Jaygo Incorporated /Manning & Lewis Engineering. Mr. Banning served as Team Leader for the last "Gap Filler Project" with the NYCT/MTA and Ms. Ellyn Shannon, Transportation Planner for the LIRR Commuters Council.Merrick resident Judy Heefner, whose niece, Natalie Smead, was killed by a LIRR train after falling through the gap at the Woodside Train Station, also spoke to the committee at the hearing

Written testimony was provided by New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Thomas Madison who chairs the New York State Public Transportation Safety Board (PTSB.) The PTSB was established to "reduce the number, rate and severity of public transportation accidents" and is legislatively empowered to "conduct comprehensive accident investigations and system safety program field audits."