Lack of communication is the common theme that was shared by thousands of LIRR riders on Friday after two trains side swiped each other outside of Jamaica which caused massive delays.
The story first came to my attention by my sister who texted me before it hit the media. She was stuck on an express from Penn heading out east. She was frustrated as her train was stuck in Jamaica for nearly an hour & during that time, the conductor only came on to inform the passengers once! The only thing they were told is “something about a side swipe”.
I did reach out to the LIRR but did not receive a reply. The first mention of it in the media actually came via the Twitter feed of Channel 7 Eyewitness News. Quite a bit later the LIRR tweeted about it but did not even mention the real reason & instead used the “equipment problem” canned response.
What was really frustrating for passengers is the lack of announcements & the inability to possibly transfer to another line to get on their way. My sister’s train which was not involved in the accident held their doors closed the entire time even with other trains on the same line entering & leaving the station.
I am sorry but the lack of communication & inability to alter plans was completely unacceptable in my opinion. This sentiment was shared by many including LIRR Commuter Council chairman Mark Epstein who said “the complete lack of information provided to those riders on the affected trains” and on the railroad’s website “was not only appalling but a clear violation of the LIRR’s Pledge to Riders”.
MTA Spokesman Aaron Donovan did make mention of how the agency issued 85 email and text message alerts, 91 tweets, 96 website posts and updates, nine posts to message boards at Penn Station, Jamaica and Atlantic Terminal and eight Facebook notes.
Some might say this was a good amount of communication. However I disagree as many passengers I spoke with who happened to be on the LIRR during that time in the area seemed clueless as to what was going on as the train crews were not forthcoming about the situation. So all the alerts, tweets, etc… in the world don’t mean a thing if the actual riders are not told over the P.A. especially those sitting on trains.
Hopefully the agency will review their policy & learn that complete honesty & transparency is the way to go in such situations as anything less is completely unacceptable!
xoxo Transit Blogger