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Sen. Charles Schumer Proposes ‘Passenger Bill Of Rights’ For LIRR Riders

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Sen. Charles Schumer proposes a 'Bill of Rights' for LIRR passengers on Oct. 10, 2011 (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

Sen. Charles Schumer proposes a ‘Bill of Rights’ for LIRR passengers on Oct. 10, 2011 (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

xir_feature Mike Xirinachs
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Senator Charles Schumer is among those who are fed up with the recent breakdowns and prolonged delays along the Long Island Rail Road.

WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs With Riders

WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs With Sen. Schumer

Schumer proposed a rider’s “Bill of Rights” along the nation’s largest commuter rail system. Some 300,000 people ride the system daily during the work week.

Schumer wants more to be done to help commuters navigate the system and stay informed during service changes.

“If there’s just a bus stop a few blocks from the station, the LIRR needs to alert passengers to that information,” Schumer said. “Even though normally they may not take the bus, if they knew there were a two hour disruption they could make that decision.”

When asked by CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan how the policy could be enforced, Schumer said “refunds” or “fines” would be “a possibility.”

“We want this to have real teeth,” Schumer said.

Joe Levy, who uses the LIRR daily, says a “Bill of Rights” would be welcome.

“Because there’s plenty of times when I say to myself, ‘My god, kids in the park can do a better job than this,’” Levy said.

The “Bill of Rights” would be similar to the one in place for airline passengers.

  • The LIRR will be required to notify passengers of delays
  • The LIRR will be required to provide information of alternative transit options
  • The LIRR will be required to let passengers off stranded rail cars, or if that is not possible then they should serve water and other basic provisions to passengers

LIRR officials say they are already working to notify their customers about delays via their website and through email alerts. It’s up to passengers to sign up to receive those alerts and to pay attention to them, though.

Further, the last proposal may raise safety concerns, rail officials say, since the third rail is electrified.

“You can introduce any ‘Bill of Rights’ you want, but if you don’t have hourly employees on, ready to help, what good is a bill of rights?” an MTA employee told WCBS 880′s Mike Xirinachs. “We’ve been cut to the bone.”

Back on Sept. 29, a lightning strike shorted out a new signal and switching system, which forced the shutdown of the third rail and caused massive commuting headaches.

There have been about a dozen major delays or shutdowns on the LIRR during the past 12 months.  Some passengers said they are begging for action before winter and are currently not getting what they paid for.

In a statement, Schumer said the LIRR needs to reconnect itself to a base level of service for the price commuters pay to use the system.

What do you think of a possible passenger’s Bill of Rights for the LIRR? Sound off in our comments section.

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