Reporting Kathryn Brown
NEW YORK (WCBS 880 / CBS 2) - New signs and fresh timetables greeted commuters on Long Island Monday. As CBS 2HD’s Kathryn Brown reports, Long Island Rail Road commuters saw fewer trains, longer waits and more crowded rides.
The MTA said it was forced into the widespread cuts to help stitch a $900 million budget gap back together.
While some riders were taking it in stride, others were frustrated and angry. “We’re feeling the pinch of this and I’m not really happy with it,” said Rich Simons, Port Washington commuter.
“There’s service cuts in every business, in every company. Times are tough,” said commuter Ron Lefton.
“The MTA are total thieves,” said Magel, another Port Washington commuter.
The service cuts affect about 14,000 commuters and more than half of them pass through the Port Washington Station where off-peak trains have been reduced to one per hour. Fourteen weekday trains have been eliminated entirely and and 32 weekend trains were gone.
“I work part time to get home early to be home with my children and I lost half my trains,” said commuter Valerie Hamroff.
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“We’ve always depended on this train to be available every half hour and now it’s not,” said Grace Morrison.
In Brooklyn, LIRR service was suspended between midnight and 5 a.m. and all overnight service to Atlantic Station was cut.
Starting this Saturday, there was to be no weekend service on the West Hempstead line.
“We’re kind of captive to Long Island Rail Road,” said commuter Joseph Moshy.
The service cuts came just months before fares were scheduled to be hiked by up to 14-percent across the board.
In addition to service reductions, the LIRR is also being impacted by track work.
Transit advocates and lawmakers said something has to be done before then. “I support mass transit, always have in the Legislature,” said Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel. “My fear is people will start taking to their cars. Commuters have a breaking point and they’re at that point.”
The first in a series of public hearings on those proposed fare hikes was scheduled to take place Monday night at Cooper Union.