The results of a recent poll launched by State Sen. Todd Kaminsky came as no surprise to commuters this week — the majority of Long Island Rail Road users in Long Beach and other areas are dissatisfied with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s service.
Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Beach, and his staff members surveyed about 560 riders, and found that 18 percent of commuters reported that they were satisfied with the agency’s service, a drastic contrast from the 77 percent satisfaction rate the MTA reported in March in their own poll. The results were announced Tuesday at a news conference at the LIRR station in Long Beach.
“The MTA would have us believe through their shoddy statistics that everything is okay, but these results tell quite a different story,” Kaminsky said. “In Albany, I will continue to hold the LIRR accountable and ensure they hear my constituents’ message loud and clear: the time for LIRR reform is now.”
The riders — who frequent the major LIRR lines — reported that they were dissatisfied with the timeliness, quality and value of train service. About 86 percent of LIRR riders who were polled — including those in Baldwin, Lynbrook, Malverne, Oceanside, Rockville Centre, Valley Stream and Woodmere — said they were daily commuters.
“LIRR commuters pay a lot of money for a poor, unsafe and unreliable ride,” Kaminsky said. “This survey is an important step to acquire a firsthand view of what is really going on at the LIRR. Commuters feel that they are paying far too much for poor service, dangerous conditions and an uncomfortable ride.
Kaminsky has been a vocal advocate for LIRR reform, having led a rally last year where he and dozens of people chanted “Sack Amtrak.” He also encouraged legislative leaders to hold emergency hearings on conditions at Pennsylvania Station, where many commuters travel to on a daily basis.
Kaminsky said LIRR reform is an issue that crosses partisan lines. Republican officials are also calling on the MTA to refrain from increasing LIRR fares until railroad service improves. State Sen. Elaine Phillips, a Republican from Flower Hill, has requested that the MTA put any proposed 2019 fare hikes on hold through at least 2021 until “it makes measurable improvements in service, equipment failures and delays.”
Kaminsky was joined at the news conference by Malverne Mayor Patti Ann McDonald, Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty and Rockville Centre Mayor Francis X. Murray.
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said in a statement that MTA President Phil Eng was recently brought in to turn around LIRR performance.
“And that is exactly what he is doing by delivering an ambitious program that identifies the causes of delays and gets them fixed quickly,” Lhota said. “Beyond that, the MTA is investing a record $6 billion to modernize the Long Island Rail Road with the Double Track, Third Track, new cars, new stations and more. The LIRR is the engine of Long Island’s economy and will move nearly 90 million passengers this year, which is exactly why we are working harder than ever to deliver the service LIRR customers deserve.”