LIRR ceases platform bar cart service; the end of an era

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NEW YORK CITY — Long Island Rail Road commuters looking to whet their whistle face a drier ride home now that bar carts are out of the picture.

The last of alcohol sales by the Long Island Rail Road from bar carts happened March 28 on station platforms at New York’s Penn Station, Jamaica, Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal, and Hunterspoint Avenue in Queens. There were eight in total, with five at Penn Station, and one each at the other locations.

Commuter train bar cars were a New York City staple among all the area commuter lines, with the acquisitions by public transit agencies, increased operating costs and the decline of alcohol consumption hastening their demise. NJ Transit, the Long Island Rail Road, and Metro North gave the cars up for the most part by the mid-1980s, with the last cars gone on the New Haven Line four years ago. The MTA-operated Metro North had bar carts at Grand Central Station until two years ago, amid an internal investigation of cash shortage improprieties by the Grand Central bar cart attendants.

“This service was subject to various reviews that led us to conclude that it's not our core competency and that we should stay focused on providing safe and reliable transportation," LIRR Spokesperson Aaron Donovan tells Trains News Wire. "Other retailers meet this market."

In 2012, the LIRR banned alcohol consumption on “overnight weekend trains,” and expanded the ban to include several holidays and days of potential rowdy events, such as the Belmont Stakes horse race and the SantaCon bar crawl. In October, the MTA Board approved banning alcohol ads on all its properties, including LIRR trains and stations.

The former LIRR bar cart attendants have been moved to jobs cleaning commuter cars.
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