LIRR prepares for increase in ridership as NYC enters phase 2 of reopening
The amount of people taking the Long Island Rail Road is going up slowly, and as New York State continues to reopen, that’s just how President of the Long Island Rail Road Phillip Eng said he wants it, as commuters begin to feel comfortable again taking the train to go back to work. Currently, ridership is at 14% of where it was pre-pandemic on weekdays. On the weekends it rises to 21%.
Eng added, “The patterns have changed. I’m noticing, as we expected, more single trip ticket purchases, a lot more 10 trip ticket purchases— the typical monthly commuter, going in five days or more — we will have to see how that reoccurs.”
As New York City began phase two of reopening Monday, Long Islanders headed to the Ronkonkoma branch of the LIRR to ride in to work and for a change of scenery.
Susan Sanazore, of Riverhead, was taking her very first ride since the pandemic started to see her daughter, who she hasn’t seen in months.
“I’m visiting my daughter who drove from Maryland to meet me in Manhattan today. I am a little nervous, but I have my mask and I’m doing it!”
Masks are required for everyone to wear on platforms and trains when social distancing isn’t possible. Sanazore said it’s potential overcrowding that has her concerned about her first trip back.
“As long as no one sits next to me, I’ll be fine,” she said.
The railroad says at stations like Ronkonkoma, they have “protect” trains on standby if too many people are riding at the same time. They keep them in the yard and can bring them out at the request of employees monitoring the trains.
They also recommend commuters download the LIRR TrainTime app to their photons that let’s them know which train cars have the most seats available when it approaches the platform.
Trains and stations are being sanitized every day, and ticket offices, waiting rooms and bathrooms at most branches on Long Island remain closed to limit interactions — making many feel better about riding once again.
“I’m doing it! I’m determined to go! I want to see my daughter,” exclaimed Sanazore.
When it comes to ticket prices, Eng said you can expect off peak fares at all times for the foreseeable future no matter what time of day you ride.
Eng was also asked about a possible fare hike due to lost revenue. He said it is "not being discussed right now, if there is any discussion, that will be much later in the year for something in 2021."