NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Trains packed to the brim during rush hour.
Commuters lucky to even get a seat.
With congestion pricing coming to New York City, lawmakers want more drivers to ditch their cars and ride the rails.
But can the system handle it?
CBS2’s Andrea Grymes went to find out on Tuesday.
Talk about congestion. The morning rush on the Long Island Rail Road was a sight to see.
“You can’t sit. You have to stand for half an hour. Sweat. Catch germs,” said Vanessa Mele of Glen Head.
CBS2’s Grymes got on the 7:53 at Mineola, a double-decker train with people forced to stand on steps and in the aisles.
She then transferred with the masses at Jamaica to continue on to Penn Station, squeezing on to another train.
From the looks of it, it’s hard for many to imagine how the system, which also suffers from sporadic signal issues, could accommodate even more riders.
“There’s different ways you can do it. More double-deckers, more frequency,” said Mike Seltenreich of Garden City.
“No, I’ve been doing this for 25 years, paying more and more every year and look around, it’s the same thing,” added Anthony Cacioppo of Babylon.
State lawmakers hope more people will take mass transit — and stop driving — when congestion pricing goes into effect. Come 2021, vehicles will be charged a fee to enter Manhattan south of 60th Street.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Patrick Foye said he’s not worried about more overcrowding on the rails when it starts.
“We’re doing Penn Station access. We’ve increased significantly the capacity of the Long Island Rail Road with the third track and second track,” Foye said.
Work on the second track for the Ronkonkoma branch finished in September. The Third Track Project will expand the LIRR main line between Floral Park and Hicksville, but it won’t be complete until 2022.
Penn Station access will open a new Metro-North link at Penn Station, but also after congestion pricing starts.
Lawmakers say the $15 billion raised from congestion pricing will go towards MTA upgrades.
“I’m not 100 percent confident in that,” Williston Park resident Tim Murphy said.
“We’ll never see it. It’s gonna be the same thing,” Cacioppo added.
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky said part of this plan includes a forensic audit of the MTA, and other oversight so that money raised will go toward actual service improvements and not into a black hole. Many riders said they’ll believe that when they see it.
Fares are going up on the LIRR, Metro-North, subway and buses on April 21.