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'Summer of Hell' Threatens to Snarl Subways in Brooklyn and Queens: MTA

 Travellers raced to make their departing trains at Penn Station on July 2, 2013. 
Travellers raced to make their departing trains at Penn Station on July 2, 2013. 
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DNAinfo/Michael Ip

MIDTOWN — The commuting "summer of hell" is creeping across the East River, threatening to tax subway service in Downtown Brooklyn and Hunters Point, the MTA chief said Thursday.

Amtrak repairs on the tracks leading west out of Manhattan scheduled to start July 10 will not only disrupt New Jersey travelers, they promise to disrupt Long Island Rail Road commuters too, causing a ripple effect in Brooklyn and Queens.

A surge of passengers from Long Island who would normally get off at Penn Station now have the option of transferring to the subway at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and Hunters Point in Queens.

The MTA's interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim said Thursday that they're ready for the extra straphangers and will “be able to know what time those trains are arriving at different stations, and to measure and provide for adequate subway capacity."

“We know that this is going to be a tough couple of months, but it is temporary,” Hakim said, noting that riders can sign up for MTA alerts and consult a website created to provide updates to commuters in light of the planned summer work.

“We do want to keep our customers up to date and aware of everything we have to deal with over the summer,” she added.

Around 10,000 LIRR riders will be affected by service disruptions while Amtrak carries out maintenance work at Penn Station from July 10 through Sept. 1.

The LIRR is offering its commuters discounted fares during that time period and will provide bus and ferry options to accommodate commuters who don’t opt to ride the train. It will also be adding two passenger cars to all of its trains, MTA Chair Joe Lhota said Tuesday.

“As… I’ve said over and over again, we’ve become the victim of Amtrak and what they need to do in Penn Station,” Lhota said. “We’re asking Long Islanders to change their habits, to try something different.”

Lhota encouraged commuters to use LIRR’s alternative transportation methods rather than opting to drive into the city.

The MTA will tweak its contingency plan over the summer based on what’s best for commuters, he said.

“We’re going to remain flexible, and evaluate what makes sense, what doesn’t make sense,” he said.