LIRR blames Penn Station work for drop in ridership

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HICKSVILLE -

Ridership on the Long Island Rail Road has dropped off steadily this year, according to newly released numbers.

The LIRR blames track work at Penn Station for the decline. Railroad officials say the summer-long Amtrak work cost them about 400,000 passengers in the "Summer of Hell."

In Hicksville, a number of commuters told News 12 they've tried to find other ways to get to work after dealing with LIRR delays -- but in the end, they say the train is still the best way to get to New York City.

But that doesn't make it reliable, according to Roxanne Bilello, a Bay Shore woman who says she struggles to be on time to her two jobs.

"It's a mess," she says.

The average monthly ticket costs $335 -- making frequent delays unacceptable to people like Bilello.

"It causes problems," she says.

And aggravated customers may be behind the drop in ridership. March, May, June, July, August and September all saw fewer passengers this year compared to last.

"I'm constantly late," says Michael Bergman, of Plainview. "And it's either take an earlier train or drive."

The LIRR last raised ticket prices in March 2016. It will do so again in 2019.

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