Ron LeeJul 10, 2017, 12:41 pmJul 10, 2017, 12:44 pm

LIRR riders face first morning commute of summer repair schedule

Maintenance work at Penn Station forces service changes until September

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Long Island Railroad commuters were urged to get an early start Monday morning as summer repairs began at New York City’s Penn Station.

Despite signs indicating every train was running on time, nervous energy filled the Hicksville LIRR station, as riders experienced day one of what Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called the "summer of hell."

The MTA says starting Monday through Sept. 1, three of the hub's 21 tracks will be taken out of service for two months so that Amtrak can repair aging track components at Penn Station. That construction will result in about a 20-percent reduction in rush hour trains to Penn Station when trains will either be canceled or rerouted to other terminals.

As an alternative, the MTA is offering charter buses, ferries, and lengthened LIRR trains for commuters as they figure out if other train terminals, including Jamaica, Atlantic Terminal, or Hunterspoint Avenue will get them to work on time.

"I know there's a lot of anxiety, there's a lot of confusion, but people are planning ahead. I think the MTA has done a good job with trying to get as much information out there as possible about the options. So we'll see if the message is resonating with the people," said Laura Curran, Democratic candidate for Nassau Executive.

Curran, who is challenging Republican Jack Martins to become the next Nassau County Executive, met with riders to discuss their concerns. If elected, she hopes to give LIRR riders hope for a more reliable ride along the main line in Nassau.

Meantime, in a letter to LIRR riders, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota acknowledged the inconvenience, but reminded customers: "During this period of adjustment to the summer schedule, please bear in mind these are Amtrak repairs that are causing this disruption."

The LIRR branches that are being impacted are Babylon, Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach, Port Jefferson, Port Washington, Ronkonkoma, and West Hempstead.

The MTA also says if you plan to ride the LIRR this summer, their website and app should be considered one-stop shopping for all the information you need to make sense of all the changes.

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