NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has unveiled new plans to spiff up Penn Station for Long Island Rail Road commuters as a new report finds trains are late more than they’ve been in years.
But what do commuters care about? CBS2’s Marcia Kramer found out Thursday.
There was an impressive PowerPoint presentation in front of an audience of adoring supporters, a performance orchestrated by Cuomo a week before his Democratic Gubernatorial Primary face-off with actress Cynthia Nixon – a performance designed to highlight one of his true strengths, building bridges and airports and other infrastructure projects.
On Thursday, the governor unveiled plans to add a new LIRR entrance at Penn Station and make the corridors wider and higher.
“It’s a commuter nightmare, it’s also a safety concern. This is a high concentration of people in a relatively small space underground,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo’s announcement came as a new report shows LIRR performance sinking. The railroad is on track to have the fewest number of on-time trains in 20 years.
When asked what would mean more to him, on-time performance of the LIRR or making the corridors bigger and having more entrances, Ronknokoma resident Eben Amos said, “On-time performance would be better, because we don’t need to stay here long if the trains are on time.”
Added Mark Marturano of West Hempstead, “On time. It’s how you schedule yourself. I’m taking an earlier train to make my appointment.”
“I would want on-time trains. I think the doors are big enough,” added Nancy Broder of Stony Brook.
“People have places to be, you know? You just want to be on time. Everybody has to be on time,” said Randy Brown of Lynbrook. “I don’t really care about the entrances as long as it’s clean.”
LIRR President Phillip Eng said he’s as upset as commuters about the poor performance, but he has been working on it since he took office five months ago, with better infrastructure to combat severe weather and a third track coming on the main line between Floral Park and Hicksville.
“I know the numbers are challenging and I know our customers have been frustrated and we’re just as frustrated as them,” Eng said.
A spokesperson for Cuomo said the governor believes the LIRR’s performance is “unacceptable,” which is why he is investing $6.8 billion to modernize and expand service.