As ‘summer of hell’ ends, normal service set to begin again for LIRR

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A Long Island Rail Road train pulls into the East Williston station on the Oyster Bay branch. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

The end of the so-called ‘summer of hell’ is drawing near for the LIRR.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced on Thursday that the Long Island Rail Road will return to its regular weekday service on Tuesday, Sept. 5, following a long summer of track repairs in Penn Station.

Amtrak also announced that regularly scheduled operations will resume at Penn Station that Tuesday.

With the return to normal operations, the discounted fares traveling to alternate stations and the temporary bus and ferry service put in place as travel options for LIRR riders will end on Friday, Sept. 1.

These travel options were put in place to try mitigating the impact of track repairs, taking place from July 10 to Sept. 1, that shut down three tracks at Penn Station. The MTA also added 36 extra train cars and three new trains.

“Our goal was to provide our customers with a range of alternative travel options and planning tools to limit the repair work’s impact on the daily commute,” Joe Lhota, chairman of the MTA, said in a statement. “I want to thank our customers for their patience and willingness to try the temporary travel options, as well as our employees for their hard work to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

Initially, there were 200 coach buses at eight different park and ride locations dropping people off on 34th and 42nd streets. After seeing low demand, the MTA cut it down to five locations and reduced how many buses went out.

Two locations – Glen Cove and Long Island City – also had ferries bringing people into the city, but MTA officials said they found most people continued to use the train to get to Hunterspoint and ended ferry service at Long Island City.

That plan cost around $58 million, MTA Chief Financial Officer Robert Foran, said at an MTA board meeting last month. Most of the costs went to the bus fleet and lost revenue from fare reductions.

The initial repair announcement had come in wake of signal problems, train derailments and suspensions. Amtrak, which operates Penn Station, said the repairs were needed to address long-term infrastructural neglect.

The new fall schedule, dated Sept. 5 to Nov. 12, 2017, can be found online at www.mta.info/lirr and at LIRR stations.

“Together, we were all able to get where we needed to go this summer with minimal disruption, and we are pleased that our customers will return from the Labor Day holiday to their regular timetables,” Lhota said.

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