4 days ago Long Island Railroad President Helena Williams penned an editorial for Newsday. She talks about the LIRR’s proud history & her attempts to combat the huge disability benefits scandal that has shined a negative light on the agency. Here is a brief sample of her editorial:
‘Change at Jamaica.” It’s a familiar refrain to anyone who rides the Long Island Rail Road. But in recent weeks, it’s taken on a whole new meaning for the 6,800 employees who keep America’s oldest and largest commuter line running.
Our organization finds itself under fire, facing understandable public outrage at news that nearly all LIRR retirees in recent years have received a disability pension from the federal government. At Gov. David Paterson’s urging, we are aggressively pursuing reform to safeguard taxpayer funds. It’s no longer business as usual at the LIRR on this issue.
In August, we referred this matter to the inspectors general of the MTA and the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, a little- known federal agency based in Chicago that approves 98 percent of all disability pension applications nationwide without any meaningful input from the LIRR or other railroads. Last month, Paterson asked Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to investigate, and the LIRR is cooperating fully.
Meanwhile, on Oct. 2, we urged members of Congress to issue a series of reforms at the federal level, designed to weed out frivolous claims – including independent medical reviews of disability applications, a more stringent review of applications from those in white-collar jobs and a requirement that claimants undergo rehab if they can return to work.
Last week, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) Rep. Timothy Bishop (D-Southampton) and representatives from other Congressional offices summoned members of the Railroad Retirement Board to New York to get them to agree in principle to significant reforms. We must all remain vigilant and watch for the adoption of new regulations by the board.
Click here for the complete report.
I have been a fan of Helena’s work since she became LIRR President. I would like to believe she is truly in a tough place here as she did not know the fraud that was going on. However the same sentiment is not shared by the few people who commented on the editorial. As usual with these responses, you have to take most with a grain of salt because the responses can be filled with utter trash or childish nonsense.
Lets look at the response from “Huh” who had this to say:
Clean? did I actually read that the trains are clean? They are FILTHY and God forbid a conductor or anyone that works for the LIRR actually picked up trash. Yes, the riders leave trash and makes a mess, but only because the thing has never been clean in the last 20 years. You treat people like animals, they behave like animals.
I’ve never met a courteous LIRR employee. IN fact, if you read posts on Newsday from former/current LIRR employess they have the audacity to write how they deserve to be fraudalent and get disability. They cannot even acknowledge it is fraud, they can only say “they paid into the system and they should be able to get it back out”. Typical of a UNION worker.
Half the reason I don’t want to work in the city is I know how incovenient the 33 minute ride is. NO one wants to stop at Jaimaca or even slow down.
The entire system could get rid of conducters if they wanted to, see other systems where electronic turnstyles take the place of humans. It is not like they do ANYTHING else on the train.
This person has a point about the trains being filthy. I have ridden the LIRR for years & have noticed this same problem. However I can’t help but feel the line of thinking here is idiotic in terms of passing the buck. So you admit that the riders themselves are responsible for leaving the trash. However you get angry because a conductor won’t pick it up. Last I check that is not part of their job description although I have seen some pick up newspapers & discard them.
The kicker is that you turn around & justify the pig style action of riders because conductors or other employees don’t clean it up & this has been going on for 20 years? Since the LIRR treats us all like animals, we as riders have the right to literally trash the system. This has to go down as one of the dumbest LIRR rants I have ever read. Let me break it down to you, when the cars first were available to be used for passenger service, they were not dirty & trashed up. This did not happen until the riding public destroyed the property themselves. So in the end it still comes down to the riders & this is a fact that an idiot like this can’t possibly refute.
Someone named “Metro-North Rider” specifically responded to “Huh” with a comment which from my experience has some truth to it:
The problem is you long Islanders suck . You are rude , noisy and dirty. You should ride a metro north train and see the different type of people. you guys are like thugs on the trains. thank god again i dont live in Long Island or I should say Wrong Island…..
While I have ridden the LIRR considerably more than the Metro-North, I must say I do notice a huge behavioral difference between the riders. I can’t recall ever being on a Metro-North train where I encountered super loud people or a rowdy pack of people drunk off their asses. While I am sure it does occur, I’m confident in saying it doesn’t happen as often. I usually hate taking the LIRR coming back to the island as those rides seem to always be considerably worse than the rides in. Either way I think the original comment has a lot of truth to it as I have heard the same sentiment echoed by others. After awhile you would think it is not a coincidence that these opinions are out there.
In the end, I hope Helena continues to do what she can to make the LIRR a strong & efficient railroad operation. It not only would benefit her to do so but the riders as well.
xoxo Transit Blogger