I attended the Nassau County Village Official Association meeting on May 9 in Westbury where they invited Long Island Rail Road President Patrick Nowakowski to speak.
He gave us an overview on the infrastructure plan of the LIRR for the next few years.
He explained the four East River tunnels are the bottleneck where the LIRR is using the maximum (60%) allocated.
The ridership has been increased from 83 million a few years ago to 89 million this year but the tunnels prevent the LIRR from adding more trains to any line (including the Port Washington line).
I complained to him that passengers in Great Neck have a hard time finding a place to stand in the morning rush hour express train.
In fact, while most Long Island school districts experienced gradual decrease in enrollment over the last few years, there are three school districts have increases in enrollment: Port Washington, Manhasset and Great Neck.
They are all along the Port Washington line and it implies more parents need to travel to work.
However, Nowakowski is unwilling to take trains away from other lines to the overcrowded line because he will face stiff opposition from residents in other lines.
I asked if the LIRR can use the double deckers in the Port Washington line and his answer is that the existing double deckers are fueled by diesel which they are going to phase out.
The situation cannot be improved until 2022 (current target) when the Grand Central project is completed.
The impression I had coming out of the meeting is that the LIRR lacks the courage to make a tough decision and they have little imagination on how to solve a problem.
What happened in the last few weeks with the train delays and other issues are just a reflection of how they think and how they react.