The results of a recent poll launched by State Sen. Todd Kaminsky are in — and the majority of Long Island Rail Road users, including Malvernites — are dissatisfied with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s service.
Kaminsky was joined at a Sept. 18 news conference in Long Beach by Malverne Mayor Patti Ann McDonald, Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty and Rockville Centre Mayor Francis X. Murray to announce the poll results. McDonald thanked Kaminsky for bringing awareness to the issue, and said she hoped the MTA would find a resolution.
Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Beach, and members of his staff surveyed about 560 riders, and found that just 18 percent of them were satisfied with the agency’s service, compared with the 77 percent satisfaction rate that the MTA reported in March in its own poll.
“The MTA would have us believe through their shoddy statistics that everything is OK, 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.
“The Long Island Rail Road comes through the Malverne and West Hempstead lines,” McDonald said, “and I have to say that the residents pay a lot of money, and for that money, they’re not getting what they deserve.”
“This survey is an important step to acquire a firsthand view of what is really going on at the LIRR,” Kaminsky said. “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.”
“The LIRR has a responsibility to keep their customers up to date to the minute and we’re constantly in the dark about what’s going on with delays, even when on the train — conductors say nothing,” a commuter from East Rockaway said in a statement in a news release. “Feels unsafe and irresponsible. The train bathrooms are almost always out of order. The floors of the trains look as if they get cleaned, maybe, once a month. Taking the LIRR to work is the bane of my existence and recently caused me to have a breakdown. I worked home for three months to get over it. I can’t believe I pay $300 a month for their services.”
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said in a statement that MTA President Phil Eng was recently brought in to improve 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.”