NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Negotiations continued Friday afternoon, but no deal had been reached between the Long Island Rail Road and the unions that would avert a strike next month.
And as CBS 2’s Sonia Rincon reported, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has come up with a preliminary contingency plan in case a strike goes ahead.
Union contracts expire in six weeks and bargaining is deadlocked. LIRR workers could walk off the job as soon as a month from Friday.
With that in mind, the MTA said if commuters want to start planning ahead of time, they can start talking to their employers about possibly working from home or taking vacation days — because getting into the city will be a nightmare.”
The MTA has been bracing for the reality of 300,000 commuters that rely on trains having to find another way.
“You could expect it will take you at least twice as long as normal to get to work,” said MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg. “It’s not going to be fast. It’s not going to be comfortable.”
A draft plan of where shuttle buses might pick up passengers was leaked to the media, and elected officials criticized it as inadequate. Lisberg said there is nothing that can replace LIRR service, but there will be buses to shuttle people from six LIRR stations to the subways in Queens as a last resort.
In addition, park and ride locations would be set up at Citi Field and Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens.
“We have draft contingency plans that are still changing every day as we work with our governmental partners on Long Island, so it’s way too early to talk about what our final plan would be,” Lisberg said.
Transit advocates said the contingency plan doesn’t go nearly far enough to accommodate the LIRR’s 300,000 daily commuters.
Anthony Simon of the United Transportation Union is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to get involved in negotiations.
“The only problem we can see is if the MTA causes their own strike,”he told WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs. “We have done everything in our own power to completely try to prevent that. We have also asked for an extension. They have still yet to accept that.”