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MTA Announces LIRR Contingency Plan For 'Summer Of Hell' Commute

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Metropolitan Transportation Authority outlined its plans Monday for handling service disruptions during summer track work at Penn Station.

Adding to the already chronic delays and service suspensions, the construction is expected to disrupt LIRR service during rush hour from July through Labor Day. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called it a "summer of hell" for commuters.

"We know that the emergency construction forces us to modify service for approximately 9,600 Long Island Rail Road commuters so the challenge is how do we minimize that impact on those customers?" said Ronnie Hakim, interim director of the MTA.

The MTA said it will add three new rush hours trains to the schedule and 36 more cars on existing trains to increase capacity. The agency will also provide additional service to Hunters Point and Atlantic Terminal.

Hakim said they must cancel three overnight trains between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. which will impact 90 riders who will be accommodated with bus service.

New modified summer schedules will be released detailing all changes.

The MTA will also provide alternative travel options including new ferry and bus service.

Long Islanders will have the option of boarding a ferry at Glen Cove for service to the 34th Street Pier. They will also have the option at Long Island City to connect to the Hunters Point ferry, Hakim said. The agency is working to provide ferry service from the South Shore as well.

The MTA will also be deploying 200 coach buses from eight park-and-ride locations throughout Long Island that will drop off customers along 34th and 42nd streets. Buses will run weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Each park-and-ride location will have customer assistance and hospitality tents offering free Taste NY food and beverages.

Some customers have called for reduced fares but the MTA announced riders will not receive any discounts during the repair period.

The MTA did not release an estimate for how much this is going to cost or who is going to pay for it. The agency promises it will not come out of riders' wallets, CBS2's Ali Bauman reported.

Riders fear the summer commute will be dreadful.

"I don't think there's any one magic bullet that's going to save us this summer, it's gonna be awful and I think just about all of us know it," LIRR rider Lee Lubarsky said.

In the past few months, commuting issues including derailments, power outages and track issues have piled on top of each other.

Manhattan attorney Paul Liggieri said riders, himself included, are not going to take it anymore. He filed a lawsuit Friday on behalf of himself and two Long Island residents claiming breach of contract and emotional distress. The suit seeks reimbursement for their monthly LIRR passes and unspecified damages due to emotional distress.

"The past few months have been absolute hell. I've been on the railroad with delays for three or four hours," Liggieri said. "I tell you what, if they are going to raise the prices you better damn well provide us with the service."

The MTA does not comment on pending litigation.

Penn Station Woes
A monitor displays a service alert for Long Island Rail Road trains as evening commuters wait at Penn Station April 4, 2017 in New York City. (credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Amtrak is responsible for the maintenance of the station and its tracks. The agency is planning to shut down three tracks at a time during a two-month-long repair project starting in July, reducing service.

Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT service will also be affected. NJ TRANSIT said it plans to reduce ticket prices.

Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have both called for Penn Station to be taken over and manged by a private operator. In a public hearing, Amtrak apologized for the recent issues, but defended their ability to manage the system.

To keep up with the latest changes in MTA service, CLICK HERE.

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