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MTA Fare Hike Vote Postponement Buys Time For Beleaguered LIRR To Address Many Complaints

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Long Island Rail Road riders have a stern message for Metropolitan Transportation Authority management: Cancel the fare hikes.

This comes as the board postponed a controversial vote to raise ticket and toll prices.

CBS2's Jennifer McLogan took to the rails Thursday and found riders complaining about crowded, dirty and late trains.

Commuters are calling it a crisis of management, funding and service.

The LIRR is now saddled with its worst on-time performance in a decade and ridership at its highest since 1949.

LIRR Strike Threat
A Long Island Rail Road train on Friday, July 11. (Credit: CBS 2)

Riders constantly complain of long wait times, being unable to find a seat and overall unreliable service.

Riders are bracing for the inevitable in the form of another fare hike. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board postponed the highly anticipated vote on Thursday, delaying it for another month.

"Today's vote was sort of like calling a time out in the last play of the Super Bowl," said Mark Epstein of the LIRR Commuter Council.

Now, the council and riders have scant weeks to try to convince the MTA board to consider alternatives. Will there be congestion pricing? Service cuts? Or more conductors catching those who evade fares?

Mitch Pally is Long Island's lone representative on the board.

"I'm hopeful. Obviously, we have a variety of other options that can be looked at now. Some of which can even reduce the fare increase. Some of it may even eliminate the fare increase," Pally told CBS2's Marcia Kramer recently.

FLASHBACKRepublicans Say No LIRR Fare Increase Until On-Time Performance And Customer Satisfaction Improve

Under the current plan, LIRR monthly tickets could go up $15 and weekly tickets could go up $5.75.

Commuters told CBS2's McLogan they should only have to pay more if performance and the condition of trains improve.

And what about ripped seats patched together with duct tape?

"As we find torn seats, they're being replaced," LIRR President Philip Eng said. "We have over 1,000 cars and that's obviously thousands and thousands of seats."

Eng stood by his comments he shared with CBS2 recently. Train seats will be repaired with a full seat patch that gives the appearance of new upholstery. Goodbye duct tape.

"It scratches your legs. It rips your hose," one commuter said.

The LIRR said it is making changes in cleaning operations, but many riders said they blame fellow commuters for slovenly behavior on the train.

"Customer conversation" forums will resume next month, beginning in Hicksville and Wyandanch.


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