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MTA's Preferential Treatment of LIRR Riders Leaves Subway Riders Fuming

By Katherine Lavacca | June 20, 2017 4:15pm
 A typical morning for commuters who rely on the L train.
A typical morning for commuters who rely on the L train.
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DNAinfo/Katherine Lavacca

BROOKLYN — Gov. Andrew Cuomo's offer to cut the cost of LIRR commuters' fares during the so-called "summer of hell" of Penn Station track shutdowns should also extend to those suffering from extensive subway delays and L train shutdowns, local elected officials said.

On Tuesday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams called on Cuomo to treat all fare-paying commuters with equal respect.

“I applaud Governor Cuomo for leading a conversation on reducing LIRR fares this summer as critical repairs are made to Penn Station," Adams said in a statement. "By the same measure, I would hope he speaks publicly and advocates for subway riders in this city to also get a discount for having to adjust their commutes amid continued repair work across the five boroughs."

Cuomo convinced the MTA, which he oversees, to reduce fares for LIRR passengers starting on July 10 to compensate for the extensive track shutdowns and reduced train service amid Penn Station's track repairs. This reduced fares will only apply to passengers who re-route their commutes into the Atlantic Terminal and Hunterspoint Avenue stations, to reduce train traffic into Penn Station.

“Governor Cuomo has asked us to provide greater value to our customers while Amtrak conducts repairs this summer. In response we’re adding to the mitigation measures we’ve already announced by providing a discount that will give customers who travel to key transportation hubs an average discount of 25 percent,” MTA Interim Director Ronnie Hakim said in a statement Tuesday.

“We believe that this move will mitigate the inconvenience that our customers may experience, and have the added benefit of drawing customers away from Penn Station while Amtrak performs repair work.”

Cuomo has said nothing about the millions of NYC commuters who are struggling with a host of subway service changes and shutdowns — including the highly anticipated, and anxiety-inducing, 15-month shutdown of L train in 2019.

Over 40 million Brooklynites rely on the L train and have expressed frustration with the MTA’s alternative service plans. Some commuters point to the century-long Second Avenue Subway project as a foreboding sign of how long it could take the agency to finish their planned repairs.

In addition, even straphangers on lines that are not being shut down officially face daily delays due to signal malfunctions and other maintenance issues.

Only two of the city's dozen subway lines — the L and G trains — were on time consistently, the MTA found, according to Gothamist. The rest of the lines had just 63.2 percent on-time arrival rate as of March this year, the MTA found.

That comes amid a growing number of horror stories about people being stuck in packed, non-air-conditioned trains — and the MTA responding by offering free books in subway stations or nixing recorded explanations for train delays with live updates from MTA staffers on trains.

They’ve even pressured Mayor Bill De Blasio to descend into the depths of the underground transit system, after his regular crosstown drives to the gym caused criticisms.