(Albany, New York) — Today, State Senator Todd Kaminsky questioned Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“MTA”) Chairman Joseph J. Lhota at the Joint Legislative Transportation Budget Hearing on the Long Island Rail Road’s (“LIRR”) ongoing poor performance. Kaminsky displayed a chart showing the recent spate of cancellations (photo attached) and read aloud an email from a Rockville Centre commuter complaining that this is the worst the LIRR has ever been in his 31 years of commuting. Specifically, Kaminsky asked Lhota what actions will the LIRR take to correct the poor state of the railroad and how communication with riders should be improved.
Following the hearing, Senator Kaminsky said:
“I was heartened by Chairman Lhota’s commitment that the LIRR will “get fixed” and for his willingness to focus attention and resources on establishing better communication with riders. I will continue to speak with the MTA and hold them accountable to give LIRR riders the dependable and dignified commuter rail system they deserve and for which they pay a great deal.”
At the hearing, Lhota responded by telling Senator Kaminsky: “I am not happy with it [the LIRR delays and cancellations] and the lack of urgency is what concerns me the most….You have my word, it will get fixed.” Lhota added, “Nothing concerns me more than communicating with our customers...we will beef up government and community affairs staff with Long Island residents who know and live in impacted communities.”
Kaminsky also pressed Lhota to push for an overhaul of the East River tunnels, citing them as a major source of delays and a potential safety hazard.
Senator Kaminsky has led the fight to provide relief to Long Island commuters. He held a rally, attended by scores of people, to “Sack Amtrak”. He also twice penned letters to legislative leadership requesting they hold emergency hearings on conditions at Penn Station. In response, the Assembly held hearings during which Amtrak and MTA officials testified, disclosing new, actionable information. He has repeatedly spoken out against the increase in LIRR fares while performance has declined, and challenged the MTA Director in Senate hearings on the poor state of several stations in his district. Senator Kaminsky was the sole Long Island Senator to question MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota at today’s hearing about the LIRR’s performance.