Wednesday, February 1, 2012

LIRR Forum, 1.30.2012

LIRR FORUM at Wantagh Library, 1.30.2012.  Warning! These notes may contain errors.
The meeting lasted from 8 p.m. to about 9:20 p.m.
 Nassau county Legislator David Denenberg hosted Bob Brennan, Director, Government and Community Relations, LIRR, and Patrick Gerakaris, Branch Line Manager of some 38 south shore stations in Nassau County.  The email for the Branch Line Manager is
 Larry Rubinstein of the LIRR Commuters' Council was present.  Please see
 I note that two Nassau seats on the LIRR Commuters' Council remain vacant.
 As people drifted in and out, the highest attendance was about 35.  However, they were far more outspoken and less polite than the smaller numbers of other meetings.  Chief problem: Some attendees would repeat their complaints several times and not yield the floor.
 Claudia of the North and Central Merrick Civic Association said that the people of Merrick and Bellmore want the Town of Hempstead to require permits for parking at those two stations.  However, some of the lots were developed with federal or New York State aid and cannot be reserved for town residents.
 Station maintenance was a big issue, especially at Freeport.  As Nassau County pays the maintenance bills, it has some say about the level of cleaning.
 Because of the pigeon problem at Merrick and Bellmore, a cleaner wipes the stairway handrails twice each morning.  The same cleaner cleans the toilets there and in Wantagh and Seaford twice also.
 The ripples and deterioration of the platform at Wantagh requires a major overhaul, but the third year of the MTA budget has not yet been appropriated by the NY State Legislature.  There is question whether any funds for Wantagh will be included beyond a design study.
 Bob Brennan said that Wantagh has 5,500 customers daily, and that it ranks #7 or #8 in passenger count.
 Someone inquired about closed circuit camera surveillance preventing suicides.  In the brief discussion, one of the speakers said that the locations of working cameras could not be revealed.  Mention was also made of parking lot and platform security cameras, but there again few answers were forthcoming.  Mention was made of more active CCTV surveillance over the past years at Freeport, including the arrest involving in street crime caught by the station cameras.  Freeport is different village police, in addition to MTA police, watch the station.
 Someone questioned whether N.I.C.E. buses would help in LIRR service suspensions.  The answer differentiated between planned service suspensions and emergencies.  Pat Gerakaris said that the railroad has contracts with forty bus companies across the island to supply emergency help.  No one addressed the impossibility of keeping drivers near on full standby.
 A man from Oceanside and others complained about the relatively-new weekend schedule that has dropped half-hourly service at Rockville Centre, Baldwin, Merrick, Wantagh, Seaford, Massapequa Park, Copiague, and Lindenhurst on four eastbound trains and five westbound trains.
 Someone said that many LIRR stations are not ADA compliant.  Bob Breenan reminded him that the ADA requirements are for new stations and stations that have major renovations.  Although many stations lack elevators, the railroad is fully compliant with the law
 Someone complained that his $600 bicycle was stolen from the rack at Seaford, and he requested more security.  That led to a discussion of the bike lockers that are provided at some stations through a private firm.  They had to be moved further from the trestles because of possible terrorist use.
 A woman complained about the short canopies at Seaford.  Bellmore, Merrick, and Massapequa have canopies protecting the entire platform.  Wantagh and Seaford do not.  She also complained that track workers leave their work debris around.
 A man from Massapequa explained that his father was a LIRR yardmaster.  He complained about problems with defecation and urination in the upstairs waiting room.  He also related how there was once a fire in that room and burned wooden bench was left on the platform.  However, the waiting room now has two metal benches bolted to the floor, and on the morning of 2.1.2012 there was no offensive odor.
 Someone said that the emergency number at elevators was no longer in service.  One of the representatives explained that many numbers were gathered into 511, but the railroad is going to reinstitute the old 8228 number.
 An attorney from Wantagh explained that the rebidding for the coffee truck has endangered the familiar coffee man.  All agreed that it was a question of dealing with MTA Real Estate.  The process includes a Request for Proposal, then bidding.
A man from Seaford complained about graffiti on the bridge over NY state 135.  He said it was an invitation to join a gang.  One of the LIRR representatives explained that it took coordination with the NYS Department of Transportation, police, and the railroad to get the graffiti covered.  The same man complained about the presence of homeless people at the train stations.
 Fortunately, the funding for the East Side Access is still in the pipeline and work continues.  The Wantagh station renovation depends on MTA funding from the New York State Legislature.  The chairman of the New York State Senate Transportation Committee is Charles Fuschillo. 
 There is renewed interest in double-tracking from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma.  I suspect that the project may draw fewer NIMBY objections than the elevation of three tracks through New Hyde Park.

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