Sunday, March 19, 2023

Late thoughts on the revamped LIRR schedules

This isn’t movie related but a screw up this big has to be mentioned

Recently the Long Island Rail Road announced a new schedule to take into account the opening of train service to Grand Central Station  on the east side of Manhattan. The idea is to make it easier for every one to get there because “so many people” use it.  

In order to accommodate the roughly 30% of their riders they cut service to Penn Station by, I’m told, 50%, and they shortened trains by up to a third in order to make more trains so everyone could get where they wanted to go. They radically rewrote their schedules essentially removing some of the most used trains. In the case of my line (Oyster Bay) they put of signs saying more trains and more to Mineola where the line connects to the main one, they completely rewrote making it nigh unusable with all the trains coming in clumps too early or too late.

They completely screwed over Brooklyn (and thus lower Manhattan) by making all train service to Atlantic Terminal via shuttle you have to change to and runs whenever.

This is the stupidest thing I’ve seen in decades. The LIRR essentially fucked over their entire ridership. No one is happy

I don’t understand what they are doing or why. They are making changes but it's more like putting out fires.

The new Grand Central LIRR terminal is a long walk from anywhere. It’s not so much that the distance to the tracks are three  or more blocks from the nearest subways, rather the station is deep (it’s several stories under the lowest levels of Grand Station) so you spend a lot of time on escalators going up and down. It will take you at least ten minutes to traverse the station just to go from the subway to the trains. (And god help us if the escalators go down)

Grand Central feeds into the over crowded Green Line (4,5,6) which is a nightmare during rush hour as is or the Shuttle to Times Square. However because of the concourses location you are actually farther away from most subway lines than you are at Penn Station. 

I know it’s a good idea in principle but the LIRR shouldn’t be banking on it being the solution. Especially since unless you need to go to the upper east side Penn Station is better- as I said the other subway lines are closer. Certainly Penn station is better if you are doing Broadway, MSG or most of the big theaters.

The truth is the LIRR  screwed up not in the building of the station, but in the revamping of the whole schedule. It was done without thinking.

First they promised more  trains and there kind of are but they chopped them all down. They shortened trains to make new trains so some rush hour trains were shorted by a third thus creating trains that are packed from the get go. 

This was compounded by the revamping of the schedule. Trains from Penn station where 70% of the people want to go was reduced. Times where radically changed. Non-mainline lines were savaged. My line, which I use to go from stops on the line, went from one train every half hour to one an hour.  This means I either get to work an hour early or 15 minutes late. Going home there is only on train an hour so I have to leave work early or  get home two hours after I clock out.

This from the railroad that wants us to take it instead of driving.

I have no idea whose idea it was but the LIRR is now transfer happy. If you want to get somewhere, especially Brooklyn, you have to transfer.  Since trains are coming from Grand Central you may have to connect to the trains in Jamaica.  They are touting direct service, but the truth seems to be you have to transfer for a lot of trains.  WORSE, when last I looked, and as I was told by several conductors, the LIRR no longer wants to post what trains connect to out of Pen or Grand Central. You either have to ask or use the app to find out what train will get you to a connection in Jamaica or Woodside.

And if you want to go to Brooklyn you MUST transfer.  Why? Because Brooklyn apparently doesn’t count.

This is insane since the Barclays center was built where it in part  because of the train was there. The Atlantic Terminal station is used by any number of people I know who work in lower Manhattan because it gets them to work sooner than going into Penn and subwaying to lower Manhattan (There are less stops)

It’s clear that the schedule revamp was done by people who did no research on the railroad and its usage. How did anyone not know this was going to be a disaster. Who ever did this should be fired and whom ever approved it should be hung out to dry.

They promised more and better service but this has been a nightmare.

ADDENDUM- additions after the fact (and potentially just hearsay)
While the railroad is making incremental changes to put out the fires they are still gung ho-and they have to be because of the money they spent.

The first thing I need to say is every employee I've spoken with said write letters to the railroad and the commuter council to express your displeasure. If they get letters they will change things faster.

Next in talking to railroad employees over the last few weeks I heard tales that you may want to know.

Apparently a good chunk of the people running the railroad and everyone involved with the scheduling debacle have no railroad experience. They come from other industries, but have no concept of what a service like a railroad does. They haven't spoken with anyone they just felt their knowledge of their industries would carry over.

I've been told the schedule nightmare is the result of of number crunching and battles. The schedulers used some sort of data to rejigger everything based on something unconnected to the real world. What I was told was that the original plan was to have a different schedule for the railroads for every day of the week. Coming from other industries they wanted to craft schedules for every day. Wars broke out because what made sense to the schedulers made no practical sense it wouldn't take into account say events, weather changes and holidays.  Apparently they were talked out of it by making them see the problems it would cause.

No one is happy. 

No one. 

Last apparently there is speculation about when the whole management/scheduling staff are going to be removed. No one seriously thinks they can last to years end-except when they realize it is the LIRR and stupid tends to win out.

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