AMITYVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Roads clogged with cars. Trains that come once an hour. Those are some of the dire predictions in a new Metropolitan Transportation Authority report. It says without a $12 billion bailout from Washington, the Long Island Rail Road will soon make severe cuts.
Community leaders have been conducting a walkability study through Amityville, on its main street adjacent to the LIRR station.
“We are trying to emphasize transit-orientated districts and bring the younger people out to the villages,” Amityville Mayor Dennis Siry told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan on Thursday.
Villages are suffering. Empty storefronts and ‘For Rent’ signs are everywhere, brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurants, bars, office and commercial spaces were built up around the LIRR.
“The Long Island Rail Road train stations are really the linchpins of a lot of our downtowns,” said Eric Alexander of Vision Long Island.
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And now, a sobering new report is echoing doomsday for Long Island’s property values, development and education if the LIRR doesn’t get help from Washington.
“If we don’t get the $12 billion from the federal government, we would need to cut Long Island Rail Road service by the order of 50%,” LIRR President Philip Eng said.
Business and transportation advocates are calling on Capitol Hill now for bipartisan support to save the LIRR and MTA from impending disaster.
“We are talking thousands of people who are going to be let go,” said Gerard Bringmann of the LIRR Commuter Council.
The report says outside of federal funding, options are not good. The fiscal crisis faced by the LIRR and MTA is worse than even the Great Depression of the 1920s and ’30s.
Without federal funding the railroad faces:
- Fare hikes
- Service cuts
- Wage freezes
- Closed ticket windows
- East Side access delayed to Grand Central Station
- Deferred plans to electrify the LIRR’s central branch
“We’re here today to urge Congress to act to pass a rescue package immediately,” said Eric McClure of Streets PAC.
Long Island representative Lee Zeldin, a Republican, responded with a letter addressed to both GOP and Democratic House and Senate leaders, saying time is running out on Long Island.
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