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LIRR Delays, Cancellations Cost More Than $60-Million In Lost Productivity; Report Claims

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A new report from the controller's office found that the Long Island Rail Road is falling short in on-time performance, and where you get on the train could make all the difference in the world.

The report said delays and cancellations affected 7.5-million riders and cost more than an estimated $60-million in lost productivity.

As CBS2's Dick Brennan reported, while on-time performance improved in 2016, it still didn't meet the railroad's target goal.

The Long Island Rail Road is the largest commuter railway in the nation, serving more than 89-million riders.

In 2016, overall on-time performance hit 92.7 percent, but fell short of the goal of 94 percent. 

A report from New York State controller Tom DiNapoli found that the overall number really masks some wild gaps in consistency.

"While the Long Island Rail Road reports that only a small percentage of its trains are late or cancelled in any given year. The controller has found that too many riders have a different experience, and it all depends on your route or time of travel," deputy controller Kenneth Bleiwas said.

"Some commuters are on railroad lines or taking certain trains that have a very, very poor on-time performance," DiNapoli told WCBS 880's Myles Miller.

For example, if you ride the 6:24 p.m. train from Penn Station to Port Washington, it's only on-time 60.6 percent of the time. Time of day also matters.

At Penn Station from 6 to 6:30 p.m. nearly 20 percent of the trains were late or cancelled.

"It's demand, more and more commuters are coming into the station trying to get trains, and if there's a wrinkle somewhere in the system, it cascades," Bleiwas said.

"Penn Station does need to be expanded. They do need better maintenance," DiNapoli said.

The railroad blamed 30 percent of delays and cancellations on things like unscheduled track work or mechanical failure.

Another 27 percent of delays were blamed on riders boarding and exiting trains slowly.

Passengers gave mixed reviews.

"I do feel there are delays, a little bit more often than it should be. It's disappointing when it happens," Rob said.

"On time performance in my opinion has been fine, but I haven't gotten stuck in any catastrophes lately, and I'm hoping I don't," Dave Garone said.

The MTA released a statement addressing the report.

"We are spending billions of dollars to improve the LIRR, most notably with the new Main Line Third Track and Double Track which will increase capacity, reduce delays, and improve safety. As recent events show, not all delays are under our control, however we are working to improve the maintenance procedures and protocols at Penn Station to ensure the best service possible," the MTA said.

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