Penn Station Repairs Could Spoil Summer For Some Businesses On Long Island

LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — If the Penn Station problems don’t end soon, Long Island shop owners fear it will mean bad news for boardwalk businesses.

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, Aaliyah Alacron works at a sports bar across from the Long Beach train station to pay for her expensive and hassled daily LIRR commute into the city for nursing school.

“My job depends on tourism,” she said. “Every location in Long Beach depends on tourism.”

Added Nakeem Evans, a Long Beach city worker: “Whoever from not out here is not going to be able to come to the beach and enjoy the beach.”

If the Amtrak plan goes through — canceling one in four trains to Long Island for Penn Station track work
during the peak July and August season — a summer bummer is predicted.

“I think it’s going to have some pretty serious ripple effects that could really give a punch to the solar plexus of the summer economy, and that just can’t happen,” said state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, D-Long Beach.

Kaminsky was among those taking to task Aamtrak on proposed disruptions and is now planning a protest Saturday with angry commuters missing school, work and important appointments.

“Whether it’s a professor or a boss or a teacher, whoever, they’re not understanding,” said Zenobia Curry, an LIRR commuter.

Said Dana Fuchs, another communter: “Service gets worse. You yell at the person in the booth or the person walking around on the platform. It’s not their fault, but there’s no accountability.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-Long Island/Queens, said work at Penn should affect fewer than 10 percent of the trains and should be spread fairly througout the system.

There are worries about the Cannnonball Express trains to the Hamptons, which are already above capacity, and concerns about Fire Island — thousands take trains to the ferries.

“People have to recognize the Long Island Rail Road is really one of the most important economic engines of all of Long Island,” Suozzi said.

Deli owner Joe Brand said he and fellow merchants are sick at the thought of a spoiled summer.

“Scary is an understaement,” he said. “It’s what our business waits for all year and pretty much how we survive the winters.”

They’re now waiting for the final word on the big fix.

Tracks are a priority because those problems cause derailments. But signal issues are just as complex, says the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council, and if those aren’t addressed this summer, hardships on tourim could turn nightmarish.

Meanwhile, Long Island lawmakers are joining the chorus of calls to turn over full control of Penn Station and the upcoming repairs to a qualified private entity.

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