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LIRR Adds Service, While Metro North Deals With Low Ridership

Frank Franklin II

The Long Island Railroad has added 68 trains to its schedule this week to allow for more options and space for riders.

This comes after the railroad had first wanted to reduce service plans for at least three months due to service cuts to reduce operating costs, but was met with harsh criticism from commuters.

Commuters, labor leaders and elected officials complained that the railroad made the commutes of thousands of riders much longer and caused crowding conditions on trains.

“We heard loud and clear from our riders that the right thing to do was to provide some service back and give them that level of comfort during COVID-19,” LIRR president Phillip Eng said. The new timetables will restore service to just over 80% of pre-pandemic levels.

In Connecticut, ridership on Metro-North is down 79%. But the commuter rail president, Catherine Rinaldi, said that’s an improvement from the 95% reduction last March during the pandemic.

Rinaldi said Metro-North has been operating at about 63% of its pre-pandemic service levels.

Rinaldi was involved in a roundtable with U.S Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut and state transportation officials to speak about the future of the commuter rails.

Murphy also credits the impact that will come from the American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden.

The federal coronavirus package sets aside about $30 billion for transit grants, $970 million for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and $350 billion for state and local governments.