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1 Comments by JKR

Local leaders speak out against MTA service cuts

Supplanting MTA with a so-called PBTA is not the solution to our current lack of adequate LIRR service and the additional projected service cuts to and from eastern Suffolk County. Making the MTA's LIRR work for all of Long Island - from Brooklyn to Montauk, from Queens to Greenport,- is the answer. It is after all the "Long Island Rail Road", not the "New York City Rail Road" or "MTA Rail Road".

The LIRR plans to eliminate the 4:30 PM Peak Hunterspoint to Montauk train starting in September (except for Friday afternoons in the summer) to realize a projected net annual savings of $396,000. This proposal makes no sense to me. This train serves Suffolk County south shore residents from Sayville to Montauk. During this time of year about 3-dozen riders take this train to Speonk, and I am sure the figure is much higher in the summer. I suspect that much of the operating cost is incurred by deadheading the train back to Speonk from Montauk in the evening rather than operating the westbound leg as a revenue-producing run.

Currently, there are 3 weekday morning Peak trains that travel from Speonk to Hunterspoint Avenue (one continues on to Long Island City). The 4:30 afternoon train now scheduled for elimination in September is the only eastbound Hunterspoint train serving the Suffolk County's south shore. The LIRR should seriously look at extending the Peak 4:44 PM Hunterspoint -Patchogue train to Speonk.

For immediate service improvement to eastern Long Island, LIRR needs to add more trains in and out of Speonk, not eliminate service. Currently there are 5-hour gaps in weekday Off Peak Speonk service. The gap is even greater for eastbound weekend afternoon/evening service. This could easily be remedied, most likely at minimal cost, by expanding current Bablyon-Patchogue train service to operate in and out of Speonk. The nominal run time between Speonk and Patchogue with stops in Mastic-Shirley and Bellport is 30 minutes.

Several weeks ago an LIRR spokesperson informed me that on March 8, 2010 the existing weekday 4:04 PM New York to Patchogue Off Peak train will commence operating to Speonk "at no additional cost". While this is certainly good news - any additional Speonk train service is welcome news - it is by no means an answer to the LIRR's planned elimination of the 4:30 train to Montauk.

If the 4:04 PM train can now be operated to Speonk "at no additional cost", it would seem logical that additional Patchogue trains could similarly be operated in and out of Speonk at no additional cost.

Speonk station is certainly convenient and, in my opinion currently underutilized, for the growing population of eastern Brookhaven Town, western Southampton Town, and Riverhead Town. As for Riverhead Town, Speonk would be a better choice for Riverhead residents over driving to Ronkonkoma to get a train, particularly if a Riverhead-Speonk feeder bus route was incorporated.

For long-term (and read this as 5-year, not 10- or 20-year plan) LIRR East End service improvements, as part of its capital projects the LIRR should upgrade and electrify the track between Ronkonkoma and Riverhead, and build a station at or near William Floyd Parkway. High-speed electric train service to Riverhead would be a boon to the heart of Suffolk County and the East End. The existing 26+ mile Main Line right of way is basically straight enough to allow electric trains to attain speeds of 80 mph.

A centrally-located new "Park and Ride" station near William Floyd Parkway, with north-south feeder bus service, would serve riders from all of eastern Brookhaven Town and western Riverhead Town: from Shoreham and Wading River on the north, to Yaphank and Manorville in the middle, to the Mastic/Shirley peninsula and Moriches/Center Moriches/East Moriches on the south.

In time, a new station in Manorville, nearby to County Route 111, could be added. With regular and conveniently scheduled electric train service to and from Riverhead, the LIRR could utilize its diesel equipment for Greenport-Riverhead shuttle duty.

To paraphrase the "Field of Dreams" line "If you build it they will come", to the MTA and LIRR I say: "If you provide the service, we will use it".

I urge everyone to attend the MTA Hearing scheduled for 6 PM Monday March 8 in the County Legislature Auditorium, Riverhead County Center, and make known your concerns about LIRR East End service cuts and general lack of adequate LIRR service to our region.
" Feb 23, 10 4:07 PM