MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A state report is claiming the Long Island Rail Road has been misleading its riders.

On Tuesday, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff found out more on a recent audit, and the railroad’s response.

The audit found “deficiencies and inconsistencies” in how the railroad measures its ridership and train breakdowns.

MORE: Read the audit

Inside new LIRR train cars (Credit: CBS2)

For example, when counting miles traveled between train breakdowns, the railroad has been measuring a single train car instead of an entire broken down train.

Several mechanical failures weren’t counted at all. In February of 2018, for instance, 202 train failures were reported, but only 24 made the tally. In fact, they were only counted if they caused a delay of more than six minutes.

“A train is not counted late unless it’s more than 5:59 late,” said Mark Epstein, the chairman of the LIRR Commuter Council. “To us, that’s wrong. If a person gets to work six minutes late, they are late. Their employer says, ‘You’re late.’ They don’t say, ‘OK, you made it within six minutes.'”

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According to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, “The MTA puts out mountains of data about ridership and service reliability, but too often its numbers are skewed or simply misleading.”

Ridership numbers are also off track. The railroad counts ticket sales, rather than actual passenger counts.

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The LIRR defended its system of measuring, but did admit it is open to changes. It claims no one is cooking the books but rather employees are following long-standing rail industry standards.

“We are using longstanding measures that are industry standards and best practices,” the MTA said in a statement. “Cars are maintained individually and in pairs, and this level of granularity reflects the efforts our maintenance staff go through on a day-to-day basis to manage our assets and keep them in good working order.”

The railroad’s reliability will improve as its 1980s trains are replaced by new trains. The antiquated fleet is expected to be completely replaced within four years.

Commuters said that’s not fast enough and they are urging Albany to come up with a new formula that reflects reality on the rails.

“Every time I come out here on the train it’s always delayed and there are always some issues,” one rider told Gusoff.

“You just never know what’s going to happen each day. It’s a gamble,” another added.

The audit also found subway and and Metro-North metrics to be misleading.


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