Performance improvement plan slated for the LIRR

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LongIsland
NEW YORK CITY — The Long Island Rail Road, stung by operational delays, angry commuters and extensive media coverage, unveiled an annual $20 million 60-point program recently to improve performance to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority board of directors. Virtually every LIRR department will be affected in this drive to improve service reliability, seasonal preparedness, and customer communications.

A monthly accounting under the program, will be provided to the MTA board and the public, noting its progress for each point, which will be compared against predetermined timelines.

“We know that improved communication with customers is vital. That extends to this plan itself. We are developing a host of methods to gauge customer feedback on our performance, from upcoming public engagement sessions and focus groups, to working with the LIRR Commuter Council and soliciting customer comments,” says Patrick Nowakowski, LIRR president.

Facets of the plan include:

•Service Reliability: Long the weak spot, locomotive and car reliability, track, switch and signals will be all be part of greater investment to insure improvements for riders. They will include more frequent track inspection, mobile equipment response teams, better crossing inspection and protection and schedule adjustments.

•Seasonal Preparedness: Seasonal weather plays a larger part in operations than most other railroads. Winter’s ice and snow along with falling leaves in autumn and flat wheel repairs that result in short trains create problems all through the year. The new plan will hopefully provide resilience and recovery against weather-related service disruptions that have plagued this year’s operations so far. Additional signal and overnight emergency crew headcount will help, as will better drainage systems as well as more snow-fighting teams to clear the rights-of-way faster.

•Customer Communications: The area is the most in need of improvement. Information that is more timely, more accurate and easier to access is a must for the Nation’s No. 1 commuter rail operation. Planned and unplanned service disruptions make immediate information dispersal a must. For this to happen, a chief customer advocate position, reporting directly to the LIRR president will be created, for timelier information on service anomalies. Focus groups and market research, countdown clocks at stations and better station and train announcements will make for easier journeys. The addition of wi-fi at New York Penn Station and Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue Terminal will also insure a faster train information flow.

The Long Island Rail Road has started implementation of some of the items on the program, with the others to be phased in during the rest of this year.


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