HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A third rail problem was resolved at Penn Station, but the nightmare for commuters was far from over.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, some said the MTA and Amtrak is holding back vital repairs to the East River Tunnels that could prevent future problems.
“I get gobbeldy-gook, I didn’t get an answer, we’re going to do this,” Senator Chuck Schumer said.
Will a public shaming be enough to get the ball rolling? Amtrak and the MTA were raked over the coals by Schumer and a bi-partisan group of Long Island leaders who demanded to know why Amtrak and the MTA are sitting on $432-million secured by Schumer last year to repair the East River tunnels.
“I think there is a lot of fighting going on between Amtrak and the MTA, but the 300,000 passengers shouldn’t be held hostage by that fighting and we are saying today, knock heads. We’re going to knock heads, get together, and solve this — figure out who’s going to fix this. We go the money there, get the plan, and get it done,” Schumer said.
Amtrak and the MTA must stop butting heads said commuters suffering from a slew of recent problems — power failures, trapped passengers, dirty water, ceiling leaks, and constant delays which prompted Amtrak to finally propose improvements at aging Penn Station.
“Do they really think the $432-million is going to resolve this in a matter of just a few weeks? This should have been done a couple of years ago,” commuter Stephen Quigley said.
“Every week there’s a problem. They should refund us money, and they should step in and make demands,” commuter Mark Fogel added.
Penn Station repairs are expected to disrupt LIRR rush hour service for much of July and August, but the planned repairs do not include tracks regularly used by the LIRR.
“Wait, we are going to have a nightmarish summer of delays for all these repairs, and the repairs aren’t even for what Long Islanders need the most,” State Senator Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Island), said.
Mark Epstein of the LIRR Commuter Council said transit officials need to pay attention.
“Let’s hope the head of Amtrak and MTA are hearing — time is now, I hope. There will be consequences if not,” he said.
In a statement, Amtrak told CBS2 rehabilitation is urgent. They are eager to work with the MTA on a plan using federal funding.
LIRR service disruptions inside the tunnels have increased 72 percent since Superstorm Sandy which inundated the system with 14-million gallons of corrosive saltwater.