LIRR Worst Monthly Performance In Decades

Ladies and gentlemen, the MTA Long Island Rail Road train you are waiting for is delayed or the one you are currently on will be arriving to your destination late. This is an unfortunate song & dance that LIRR commuters are used to dealing with & if it felt like you did even more in January, you were not imagining things.

Last month was not kind to the much maligned agency as it posted its worst on time performance for a month in 22 years. Alfonso A. Castillo of Newsday has more:

The Long Island Rail Road in January posted its worst on-time performance in more than two decades.

The LIRR’s 83.9 percent on-time performance rate for the month — released to riders Friday morning in the agency’s monthly “Train Talk” newsletter — was the lowest since January 1996, when just 73.5 percent of trains were on time.

The release of the January on-time rate comes less than five months after MTA head Joseph Lhota promised that improved service reliability at the LIRR would be the “new normal.”

LIRR officials have suggested January’s bad commute — which included at least 21 times that service was suspended on all or part of a branch — was an anomaly caused by a number of converging factors. There was a shortage of train cars due to wheel damage caused by leaves on the tracks in early December; sustained arctic temperatures that caused rails to break, switches to freeze and various mechanical malfunctions on trains; the Jan. 4 “bomb cyclone” snowstorm, and several infrastructure failures at Penn Station, which is owned and maintained by Amtrak, the officials said.

But some riders said the on-time performance last month was the culmination of steadily deteriorating service and to some degree, statistics back that up. The LIRR’s on-time performance for all 2017 was 91.4 percent, the worst since 2000. Annual on-time performance has dropped in four out of five years since 2012.

The railroad considers a train on time if it arrives at its final destination within five minutes and 59 seconds of its scheduled time.

News of the historically low mark for January served to fuel calls from commuters, elected officials and MTA leaders for a major overhaul at the LIRR, the busiest commuter railroad in the United States, which last year tied its own modern ridership record by carrying about 89 million riders.

Lhota has recently expressed his disappointment with the LIRR’s woeful service, especially coming months after the railroad received praise for its performance during and in the months immediately following the “summer of hell” service disruptions caused by Amtrak repairs at Penn in July and August.

Lhota has criticized LIRR president Patrick Nowakowski and his administration for a “lack of urgency” in addressing recent problems, and has promised a shake-up. The railroad’s head of engineering, Bruce Pohlot, resigned last month.

LIRR officials have also said they are putting together an “emergency action plan,” similar to that recently adopted for the subway system, to reverse declining service.

LIRR’s worst on-time months over the last 30 years

1. January 1996: 73.5

2. February 1994: 77.4 percent

3. January 1994: 81.2 percent

4. November 1989: 80.6 percent

5. January 2018: 83.9 percent

Source: LIRR

Click here for the complete report.

As someone who has to deal with the LIRR, I can vouch for how horrible the service truly is. While the NYC Subway has its fair share of problems, riders of it exclusively have nothing on what we have to deal with especially at the prices that we pay. Just think about it next time you complain about a delay on a subway ride that cost you $2.75 albeit with options most likely available to get around the issue versus paying nearly $20 for a peak ride with no other realistic option of getting to your destination.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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