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Letter to the Editor: LIRR's Babylon Branch Becoming Untenable

Rockville Centre resident sounds off on the LIRR's service since Hurricane Sandy.

The following is from Rockville Centre resident Rena Barnett:

In the aftermath of Sandy, we have all had to deal with inconveniences and difficulties, but it appears as though the LIRR has decided that they have no intention of improving the post-Sandy status quo.

For the past three weeks, it has been standing-room-only on the morning and evening rush hour trains on the Babylon Branch. I completely understand the need to cancel and combine trains if there is an equipment shortage, but at the very least, trains that are being scheduled should be running longer not shorter.

The new LIRR trains were not designed to accommodate people standing up and there are insufficient handholds. When people are in the aisles, the trains become only something short of a death trap as there is no easy ingress or egress.

With the average commute being 40 minutes to over an hour, standing up wearing heavy winter coats, carrying laptops and tablets, as well as the morning coffee, leads to a cramped and potentially dangerous situation for both the passengers standing up and the ones seated.

The woman standing behind me this morning was pregnant, due in March. She stood for the duration of the trip until we got to Jamaica.

The train was supposed to go straight through but had to stop because of a “medical emergency” -- is it any wonder that someone would be in danger of passing out under these circumstances? -- at which point, the pregnant woman could no longer stand. Fortunately, a fellow passenger gave up his seat. This Good Samaritan appeared to an elderly man.

With train fares in the $300 range, we pay enough not to have to be subjected to this kind of daily torture. Pressure needs to be put on the LIRR to fix the situation immediately.

Chris Wendt December 06, 2012 at 11:37 AM
An associate of mine has been buying ten-trip tickets, and so far has gotten seven rides for free. because the collectors cannot get through the crowded cars to punch tickets. The quiet car was nice most of the time, but when it wasn't observed, it led to more stress than was necessary, and anger bubbling up among passengers. The stress of the crowding rules the day, now. Passenger noise is to be expected on a crowded train, but there always seems to be that one person with the laser voice that cuts through the din with highly irritating laughter, or repetitious "can your hear me now"-type half conversations on a cell phone. I did get to work on time and home on time yesterday, and had a seat in both directions. So my complaints are only superficial, because I have a job to go to, a home to come home to, and the railroad is running between the two.
Robert Demarco December 06, 2012 at 01:15 PM
All good points, Chris. I usually get to sit both ways, but it is still not right for those who have to stand. We should all do the right thing and be on the lookout for the pregnant and the elderly and anyone else who obviously needs a seat, and be gracious. Hopefully, we get back to a full schedule soon.
Mo Bongs December 06, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Well, us hardworking folk don't have to endure the MTA treating us like cattle. Fot the money we pay, provide us with decent service. That's all we're asking for.
Chris Wendt December 06, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I agree with the sensitivity part. I am surprised to hear from people having to stand who have medical conditions or who are pregnant. While some situations are obvious, others, like severe arthritis or even a heart condition are not visible to fellow passengers sitting nearby. It should be considered perfectly acceptable and mannerly to ask for a seat if you are a passenger who needs one. While we're discussing being considerate, it should not require a conductor to ask folks to remove baggage from seats so other people can sit down. But this is a continuing problem. The PATH trains have a lot of rules, like no eating or drinking on the trains, and no packages on seats. They (PATH) enforce their rules and levy fines to violators, I don't think LIRR needs to be strict about food and drink on the trains, but I could see a small fine ($20) for tying up a seat with baggage during rush hour.
Robert Demarco December 06, 2012 at 08:15 PM
In my travels, I see more courtesy extended on the subway than on the LIRR. An expectant mother has a better chance of being offerred a seat on the subway. This is just my observation. You are right about less obvious medical conditions. We should all be alert and aware and willing to sacrifice a seat to someone who needs it more than us.

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