MANHATTAN - The Metropolitan Transit Authority has announced the agency's contingency plan in the event of a Long Island Rail Road strike.

Chairman Thomas Prendergast said he hopes the agency never has to put the plan into place, and adds that they are doing everything they can at the bargaining table to keep the strike from happening.

The plan includes using ferries in Glen Cove to shuttle commuters to and from Manhattan; opening up 7,000 free parking spots at Citifield and Aqueduct Racetrack; increasing HOV requirements on the LIE to three or more passengers per car; and using 350 school buses to shuttle 15,000 passengers from LIRR stations to three subway stations.

Commuters will be able to catch those buses at the LIRR stations in Manhasset, Hicksville, Seaford, Bellmore, Freeport, Ronkonkoma, Deer Park and Nassau Community College. The MTA says it has also reached out to employers to ask if their employees can work from home.

Prendergast says the MTA has commitments from at least 18,000 workers to telecommute. He also says New York state will require all non-essential employees on Long Island to telecommute.

The contingency plan covers commuting for just a fraction of the daily LIRR commuters, and the MTA has acknowledged it will never be able to come up with a contingency plan to accommodate all riders.

Meanwhile, Nassau County and the Town of Islip have announced their own plans to help commuters deal with the possible strike.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano says the county will open a free, temporary "telecommuting office." This office will provide a professional setting for people to get their work done if they are unable to commute to work.

In Suffolk County, the Town of Islip is working to open up extra parking lots near main commuter hubs to make sure people are able to catch buses. Additional parking lots could be opened up at Touro College in Bay Shore as well as in Ronkonkoma and Sayville.

The plans come on the heels of LIRR labor unions making a counteroffer Thursday night after five hours of negotiations in a Manhattan law office. Prendergast said Friday that informal talks took place all day.