Statement of the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council
and the Metro-North Rail Road Commuter Council
Before the MTA Board LIRR/MNR Committee
July 23, 2012
On behalf of riders I want to thank the MTA, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North Railroad for developing the package of service restorations that were released last week and are to be discussed at the Board this month. We appreciate all of the staff work that went into developing this package and want to acknowledge Board Members Allen Cappelli and Mitch Pally, as well as our rider representatives on the Board, for raising the issue of service restoration and keeping the need to restore service before the Board and management.
There are a number of noteworthy service restoration and enhancements in this package and I won’t take the limited time available to discuss them all. Suffice it to say that the restorations, such as morning and evening peak Pascack Valley Line trips and the Long Beach Branch morning peak trip, will make a significant difference for commuters. The restoration of late night service from Brooklyn reverses an unfortunate decision that would have forced those Long Islanders taking advantage of Downtown Brooklyn’s many attractions to make an inconvenient, indirect path home. In addition, the proposed service enhancements allow the railroads to respond to the strong ridership growth we are seeing, particularly in off-peak hours. We still have some work to do to address issues such as weekend West Hempstead and off-season Greenport service, but these service changes are a very positive initiative.
While I note the positive impacts of this package, it’s important to recognize that the fundamental cause of the service cuts that these changes reverse is funding. Without $141 million of State funding cuts in 2010, followed by $100 million the next year, these service reductions would not have been necessary. Public transportation is an essential service, and the elected officials who make decisions on MTA funding must recognize this. We hope that our elected officials will take to heart the consequences of funding decisions that they make in the future.