Commuters Express Frustration, Anger With LIRR

NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (CBS 2) — There was a storm of protest – bordering on mutiny – from frustrated commuters Wednesday, furious that the LIRR charged them peak rates after cutting the number of trains in half due to weather.

“We hate the Long Island Railroad,” one commuter said.

“There’s a fight breaking out, practically, because no one can get on a train, and an empty one just went by,” said another.

There was nearly a revolt on the LIRR, as express trains passed right by many passengers-in-waiting without stopping, and many local trains were packed so full that people couldn’t squeeze in.

The commute was a mess, and all because the LIRR decided to cope with the storm by running a weekend schedule – railroad talk for running about one train an hour – and to add insult to injury, passengers had to pay peak fares.

“There’s no trains, and they’re running on a weekend schedule,” New Hyde Park resident Grant Brandeis said. “We’re waiting here for almost two hours now, it’s just unbelievable, and we’re still paying our $240 a month.”

The LIRR usually runs 143 trains between six and 10 a.m., but on Wednesday the number of trains was cut to just 75.

CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer asked to speak to LIRR President Helena Williams, but since she went to sleep after a long night at the controls, Kramer asked LIRR Vice President for Public Affairs Joe Calderone about the peak fares for reduced service.

“The fares are based on the time of day and the day of the week,” he said.

Calderone said the LIRR ran a weekend schedule to have time on the tracks to de-ice the third rail, so trains wouldn’t get stuck.

“Because we were on that weekend schedule, we were able to keep what they call ‘anti-freeze trains’, which spread a thin coat of anti-freeze on the third rail to try to keep it free of ice,” Calderone said.

Riders, however, weren’t buying it.

“I don’t think people should pay,” Linda Dove said.

“Peak fares should not be imposed today certainly. If anything, you should ride free,” Charles Carson said.

Although it won’t undo the morning’s frustration, the railroad said it was operating on a regular weekday schedule, with just a few cancellations, by Wednesday afternoon.

More from Marcia Kramer
  • rottenberg

    I take the NY train out of woodmere on the Far Rockaway branch. This morning, the westbound platform – the one used by most AM commuters – was covered by sheets of ice. A crew WAS hard at work clearing ice off, but on the eastbound platofrm, which is lightly used during AM peak hours. Those of us across the tracks could only wionder why the LIRR would direct its workers to concentrate on what’s obviously the wrong platofrm.

  • If you don't like the train, try driving.....

    After 12 years of dealing with the LIRR cancelling trains,combining trains, turning express trains into locals, late arrivals, high fares, overcrowded dirty trains I switched to driving. I now drive every day from the North Shore into Wall Street and its a pleasure. I started driving in and out of the city last year and I’ll never go back…. and yes, I work traditional banker’s hours.

  • AJay

    I unfortunately live in Crookhaven Township and Verizon is refusing to pay the required bribes to the Crookhaven thieves for them to be able to bring in their Fios service. Hopefully, one day we will see the gangsters in Crookhaven and in the L IRR management and unions led off in handcuffs. I have been repeatedly told this by Verizon officials for several years. The Vampire State is a cesspool of corruption and is headed for bankruptcy.

  • Kenia

    If France, England and Japan can run high speed trains 150mph on time like clockwork,WHY is it that the wires overhead cannot hold a squirrel in bad weather. It’s because railroads in this country wern’t maintained for decades. The New York Central Railroad made more money off of air rights over Park Avenue. Charging for air is more profitable that running a well-maintained railroad. The same for the Pennsyvania Railroad. That why leasing was invented by GM, the MTA and others. Don’t maintain a thing, just buy new cars and charge for air rights!!!!

  • John

    The people who are in charge of the long Island Railroad must not have any common sense.If they sat down,they would crush their brains ,because that is where they have them.These overpaid executives are a bunch of hot air windbags who could care less about the riding public.The commuters of the LIRR deserve much better service then what they have been getting.There should be absolutely no more fare increases.This monopoly has enough money,and they certainly do not need any more! The Wizard of Oz and Lady Godiva could run the railroad betteer than those clowns!

  • HUGO

    Don’t forget about the golden parachutes all the fat union LIRR slobs get when they leave!

  • Greg in NJ

    Wouldn’t it be nice if all the cry babies, would go and buy a car and drive themselves. End of problem. I wouldn’t step foot on mass transit, thats whay I have a car

    • HUGO

      Good for you Greg, you have a car. Now drive away!

  • Kevin

    I took the LIRR for 30 yrs. At the same time, I worked in the corporate world. In my opinion, the LIRR is the worst run company I’ve even been associated with. It’s over-priced, offers poor service, continually gives out wrong information, and it does all this because it’s a monopoly. What happened today with these commuters does not surprise me one bit. The LIRR is horrible.

  • Vinny

    Stop wining LI babies!

    • HUGO

      Vinny, we know you work for the LIRR and you are a crook!

  • Travis Bickel

    I commuted on the LIRR for 10 years. I complained all the time. I moved to NJ and began riding NJ Transit. Let me tell you guys. The LIRR is a first class exotic totally regal experience compared to the third world hell that is NJ Transit.

  • Freddy

    Here’s the deal. All of the MTA executives live in Westchester, not LI. That, in a nutshell, is why Metro North is a pleasure and the LIRR is a nightmare. If they had to ride the same nasty trains that we do, things would be different

  • bobo

    sounds like most of the problems were with the ronkonkoma line. i briefly rode that line a few years ago for 9 mos. problem after problem. it took 3 broken down trains in 5 days to send me back to the babylon line and been happy ever since. even this moring.

  • Janice

    I’m so sick of the LIRR, bunch of incompetent jerks who keep raising the fares on commuters but take away more services and the trains are still always late. F.O. LIRR!!!!

  • Meg E

    I like to call it the EMPTY A because they are always
    outta $$$$.

  • Eleno Joyas jr

    Do you have a choice in a Monopolized Transportaion Authority? The commuters here is at the mercy of the public transport. There is no place like America. Is this your democracy? This is one of the reasons I don’t like this country. The low level income people and the marginalized are the ones suffering not because of our fault. I don’t know what will it take to rectify these excesses. The higher authorities can do something about this. That is why America is being left behind. It’s time to bring back better times.

    • Ex-Lilco

      If you don’t like THIS country go back where you CAME from. If this country is so bad why did you leave your Utopia?

  • Kenny

    The Long Island Rail Road is still using technology that was installed in the early 1900s.You would think in a big city like New York, the rail road would be updated and be able to weather snow storms. New York has had snowy weather since it was founded and the rail road still gets crazy when it snows?

  • Hag Benowitz

    The LIRR is like Cablevision’s Optimum Online it stinks and would be out of business if there were competition. Optimum will be out of business soon, thanks to FIOS.


    time to get a new rail road and get bids from other states the hell with LIRR.

  • james

    I used to ride from Ronkonkoma to Penn in 1988-1991, I don’t miss it or the
    $188 Monthly ticket either. Now it is a lot more and you get a lot less service.

    Y’all come on down to Sunny North Carolina and live large.

    • HUGO

      Jimbo, I will be relocating to your couch!

  • Ed N.

    I recently moved to LI from Westchester and LIRR is so horrible compared to Metro-North. I’ve been joking when my daughter asks why I’m home late that “a snowflake hit the track” or a “raindrop hit the track.” They act like it was a system built for Florida weather. I would guess that ontime percentage is at best 30% even on clear days, and it’s a train system that would make a third-world country blush the rest of the time.

    • NYC commuter

      Metro-North is not that much better. Take it from someone who did the daily commute in the New Haven Line on the Metro-North–very old decrepit cars that were uncomfortable beyond description. Now I take the Port Washington line and it is beautiful. You should look into changing lines.

  • Taxed upthe Wazoo

    MTA has 90% of it’s employees on DISABILITY !!!
    That’s right …90%
    it was on the cover of newsday
    Lawyers & Scam doctors were indicted
    nothing gets done
    NY is going the way of detroit soon

  • s. Tyme

    All that I can say is that Mayor Bloomberg should be ashamed for putting school children in danger by not closing schools this morning. Traveling was horrendous!! Oh I forgot, he doesn’t care about us as he proved when he overturned our votes. And he wants to run for President?! Yeah, right!!!

  • Loretta

    You go on girl!

    • Love my Mom.

      You’re a good woman Loretta.

  • Hamentashen

    How about we complain about the planes that fly over NHP as well.
    The N train was glorious this morning. Got a seat, listened to some music, read a book, sipped on a latte

  • Frank

    Everyone in MTA management needs to be removed. These people are gross incompetents who do not care because their jobs are secure. If anyone in any working industry performed like the MTA they would be fired in microseconds, yet the MTA et al get away witrh it. This is an unfixable issue which will never be resolved until the government intervenes.

  • Gandolfo

    The LIRR does not care about us. The only thing there care is raise the fairs every time. The agency does not ride with us on the trains every day. If did their it will be a different story. I am getting sick and tired with them. If MTA was smart but there are really dumb. The MTA should build see through tunnels on all the branches. When it rains, snows or anything that Mother Nature dishes out. It will not affect the 3rd rail and the switches.

  • Elmo

    No notice on my email alerts about changing to weekend service. Signs at the station had no info other than to go to their website. A Joke.

    • 01608

      Thank god for bostons t. They will update the website & send email, 10/20 mins. late but u will get updated.

  • Doreen

    Really Bob? That’s what you came up with. You are obviously an ignoramous. For year’s that agency has been run by men who have run it into the ground. I’d say kind of similar to this country.

  • Smegma

    If there was another option besides the MTA, the MTA would be out of business in a week. Making the railroads privately owned was the worst idea ever. Didn’t they ever read Atlas Shrugged?


    NHP residents always have something to say….

    • I hate the LIRR

      And who are you? Floral Park?? Bellerose???


    Who cares peak fare! Most people have monthlies so it doesnt matter! And the train i was on the conductor didnt even come to check the tickets. We stopped at New Hyde Park, with plenty of room on my car, and the conductor instead of telling people to walk back, told them to take the next train! Pathetic!
    Reaility is the LIRR has been around for decades, and yet every little weather problem causes a delay, cant they figure it out by now. Even with nice weather, the system is over 50 years old, cant the trains go faster then creeping through Jamaica.
    One answer: VERY POORLY RUN SYSTEM! Wish we had a governer that would do something about it. We vote, and ride the trains every day!

    • I hate the LIRR

      But very true about them being a poorly run operation.

    • I hate the LIRR

      Cool story bro. What time was the train empty? 2:00 PM? I sat there for 2.5 hours before walking home in the rain this morning.

  • CSI

    How exactly does the ticket person get to check the tickets if they cant move from cart to cart.

    • Vincent

      This is true. If the article was accurate and the trains were so packed you couldn’t even move, then the ride would have to be free cause there is no way they could check tickets. This doesn’t add up?

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