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MTA Chief Announces Contingency Plan In Case Of LIRR Strike

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BETHPAGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — With just nine days left before a potential Long Island Rail Road strike, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has made its contingency plan public.

MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast said Friday he hopes they don’t have to put them in place, but if so, commuters will have far more options than they did during the last strike in 1994, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.

MTA Chief Announces Contingency Plan In Case Of LIRR Strike

photo 22 MTA Chief Announces Contingency Plan In Case Of LIRR Strike
CBS 880's Marla Diamond reports

Here’s What You Need To Know:

  • The MTA plans to offer several free options for commuters, including buses, ferries and parking spots to get people into and out of the city.
  • The MTA says it can get 15,000 riders on the buses from stations in Manhasset, Hicksville, Seaford, Bellmore, Freeport and Nassau Community College.
  • In Ronkonkoma and Deer Park in Suffolk County, the MTA said it can can get 1,000 riders on ferries out of Glen Cove that will take them to the East 34th Station.
  • Buses from Nassau County College, and the Merrick and Bellmore train stations, will connect to the Howard Beach A Train station in Queens.
  • Buses from the Bethpage, Deer Park, and Ronkonkoma stations will connect to the No. 7 line at the Mets-Willets Point station.
  • Buses from Hicksville will go to the Woodhaven Boulevard subway station in Elmhurst, Queens, serving the E, M and R trains.
  • The MTA plans to offer several free options for commuters, including buses, ferries and parking spots to get people into and out of the city.
  • There will be 4,000 parking spots at Citi Field and 3,000 at Aqueduct Raceway.
  • For drivers, the HOV lanes on the LIE will require three people instead of the usual two.
  • Subway cars will be added, and more trains will run, on the 7 and A lines.

Ferry and shuttle bus service will be available during peak hours, between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m., and between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

“We have procured more than 350 buses that will shuttle customers from six LIRR stations in Nassau and Suffolk counties to three major subway stations in Queens,” MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said. “This will be peak direction only, this will be rush hour only, but these will be able to carry 15,000 customers per day.”

The MTA has also been aggressively asking companies to allow their employees to telecommute.

If a strike occurs on July 20, Nassau County plans to open a free telecommuting office at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage.

MORE: What Both Sides Want | What’s Your Backup Plan? | Join The #LIRRStrike Conversation

“We understand that people may not be able to work at home because they need to work with coworkers and not everybody wants the coworkers join them at their home, so this provides a nice business-like environment,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said.

Workers must make reservations to use the office and space will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, but there will be desks, free Wi-Fi and conference rooms.

Nassau County To Open Telecommuting Office If LIRR Strike Occurs

lirr 1 MTA Chief Announces Contingency Plan In Case Of LIRR Strike
Sophia Hall reports

To reserve a desk, residents should call (516) 573-9792.

Free parking lots at North Hempstead Beach and New Hyde Park in Nassau County will be available for ride sharing.

“We have no control over the strike, but we want to have people feel like they have some control over their ability to get into the city,” said North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth.

Mangano also said the county will adjust traffic lights so that green lights last longer westbound during morning commutes and eastbound for evening commutes.

Meanwhile in Suffolk County, Town of Islip officials said they would open a MacArthur Airport lot near the Ronkonkoma train station for parking in anticipation of a crush of cars.

LIRR Strike Map (MTA)

LIRR Strike Map (MTA)

If there is a walkout, the MTA is urging riders to use one of four options:

1. Work from home or stay with friends and family in the city.
2. Discuss telecommuting and/or flex time options with your employer.
3. Carpool with others
4. Use existing bus services provided by NICE, NYC Transit and MTA buses.

LINK: Click Here For More Information From The MTA

The MTA has posted a page on its website with information about potential service disruptions for the LIRR’s 300,000 daily riders.

The agency also plans on alerting customers to service changes and information via email and text messages, digital signs at stations, and on social media.

In announcing the plan, Prendergast emphasized that the MTA has developed a contingency strike plan that is far more detailed than the plan in place during the last strike in 1994, when only 7,000 riders could be accommodated, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

This time, ferries, park-and-ride lots, and shuttle buses are ready for action, and officials said about 18,000 workers will be allowed to telecommute.

“The MTA today has a far stronger, more robust, and multifaceted plan,” Prendergast said. “We’re better prepared than we were in 1994.”

But United Transportation Union President Anthony Simon said no contingency plan would be sufficient.

“I don’t think a contingency plan can be good enough to help 200,000 to 300,000 daily commuters, so the union’s position is that we’ll do whatever we can to resolve this before it gets to that,” Simon said.

MTA Chief Announces Contingency Plan In Case Of LIRR Strike

photo 2 3 MTA Chief Announces Contingency Plan In Case Of LIRR Strike
1010 WINS' Al Jones reports

And as CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the strike plan unveiled Friday did little to comfort riders and business owners who were on edge as the clock continued to tick.

“It could make or break – it could break our business,” said Stanley Zubkow, manager of Dad’s Deli across the street from the Ronkonkoma LIRR station.

Dad’s Deli just opened recently, and with less than nine days until the strike deadline, Zubkow and other merchants were left jittery.

“There’s not going to be enough hotels, taxis, buses,” said Tony Mingoia of the Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce. “When you have chaos, you have accidents.”

Merchants appealed to both sides to settle — not only to spare 300,000 riders a commuter nightmare, but also to save businesses, including the summer-dependent tourism industry.

“A hotel could lose, you know, $20,000 or $30,000 over a weekend,” said hotel owner Rob Salvatico. “It’s a significant number for us.”

Residents in Queens where the shuttle buses will be dropping off thousands of commuters from Nassau and Suffolk counties say their subway stations are already crowded during peak hours and thousands more pouring through the turnstiles would mean chaos, CBS 2’s Matt Kozar reported.

Chris Colon said rush hour at the Woodhaven Boulevard station is crowded as is.

“A lot of people arguing, a lot of people are grumpy in the morning,” he said.

The two sides returned to the bargaining table Thursday, but no agreement was reached and no new talks were scheduled.

Prendergast said on Friday they’re still trying to avoid a strike all together, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.

“We’re gonna have sessions in the future. There’s a lot of discussion yet to go on. And informal discussions are ongoing,” Prendergast said.

The MTA was reviewing the union’s counter-proposal late Friday afternoon, Diamond reported.

The MTA has offered workers a 17 percent raise over seven years, but would require them to pay toward health care costs. Currently, LIRR workers don’t contribute toward their health insurance at all.

The MTA proposal would also require new LIRR employees to contribute more to health care and pension costs than current ones.

LIRR employees have been working without a contract since 2010.

Check these out for more coverage on the possible LIRR strike: