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Long Islanders Making Reservations With Private Transportation Companies In Event Of LIRR Strike

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Commuters fearing a Long Island Rail Road strike have been flooding area car and bus services with inquiries about lining up alternative plans — and some are even booking helicopters and sea planes.

As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the phones have been ringing off the hook at 7Bus, a Bohemia-based luxury bus company.

“We have air conditioning, a clean bathroom, but most importantly, it’s free Wi-Fi,” said Bill Schoolman, chief executive officer of 7Bus.

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

Buses will go back and forth from the Rego Park subway station to Melville, Ronkonkoma and Stony Brook, Schoolman said. Fares are $10 each way.

Go Buses, another motor coach line, plans to add service at locations in Nassau County, including at Christopher Morley Park.

Private car services are also ramping up their van and black car fleets. And taxi companies are planning to group riders.

“We can get four in a car, and we can get like five, maybe six tops in our van,” said Doug Freeman of Huntington Taxi.

On the Internet, people are offering up space in their cars and apartments.

In East Farmingdale, a Sikorsky helicopter out of Republic Airport has been booked for Monday. The price tag: $3,200 one way.

With seating for six, “you’re looking at roughly $500 per person to get from the Long Island area down into the New York metropolitan area,” said Leonel Rivera of Sheltair Aviation.

But for those planning to tough it out with the MTA’s school bus shuttles, there’s concern.

“There are not enough buses,” Mark Epstein, chairman of the LIRR Commuter Council, told Gusoff. “People who can’t find a friend of a friend to stay with will be stuck. Traffic conditions are going to be unbelievable.”

“We are calling on you to ramp up the contingency service,” said Suffolk County Legislator William Spencer, D-Centerport.

Added Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone: “There really is no shuttle opportunity from this part of Long Island for this North Shore.”

“There’s no plan,” said state Sen. Carl Marcellino, R-Oyster Bay. “The MTA is not ready.”

There was also a warning Wednesday from the Brookhaven Rail Terminal that a strike would halt rail freight, putting 800 long trucks onto roads.

Long Island lawmakers are calling the potential strike a looming economic disaster.

NYC Contingency Plans

As CBS 2’s Matt Kozar reported, in New York City, a strike would put stress on roads, bridges and subways.

“I do anticipate more congestion on the Lexington line, more than it usually is,” one woman said.

Some straphangers said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been making announcements on the trains warning of possible route changes.

“They’re just kind of warning you it could change, but they didn’t really say what to do,” a straphanger said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’ll closely be monitoring the situation while on vacation with his family in Italy.

“In the event there is a strike, the contingency plans are very, very strong,” the mayor said Monday.

But what are those plans?

On Wednesday, the city’s Office of Emergency Management told Kozar it is in the final stages of a citywide plan. They’re not releasing all of the details until it is finalized.

OEM Commissioner Joe Esposito said he anticipates hours for high-occupancy vehicle lanes will be extended, helping to ensure workers in emergency vehicles will be able to get through to do their jobs.

Esposito said his biggest concern is the crowds in the subways. He said transit police will be on high alert and out in full force.

“They’ll be queuing up people outside the stations perhaps, so that we don’t have too many folks on the platforms so we don’t have an accident where someone gets pushed onto the tracks because of the crowd,” Esposito said.

Esposito said the OEM has also been talking to city agencies in Nassau and Suffolk counties because, he says, dealing with the large crowds will take a unified effort.

The NYPD will also add officers at the main corridors into the city to help keep traffic moving in from Queens and Brooklyn. Police will also increase security at the park-and-ride sites.

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