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Columnists

Commuting on the LIRR’s Oyster Bay Branch: A Nightmarish Odyssey

The Oyster Bay LIRR branch is in a deplorable state, which is disrupting the daily lives of commuters who rely on it for their work and other activities. The stations are dilapidated, the diesel locomotives are deafening, service is infrequent and the sluggish pace is unacceptable.

Today, I attended a small press conference hosted by Joseph Saladino, the Oyster Bay Town Supervisor, along with other local elected officials and commuters who suffer from the poor service. The discussion also highlighted the economic impact of unreliable transportation, which is making it challenging for businesses to attract and retain skilled employees and leading to a decline in property values. New York is losing residents due to relocation to other states, and it is essential for the state to investigate the underlying reasons for this trend.

I left the Oyster Bay LIRR station at 1:38 pm today and walked into the National Herald’s offices in Long Island City, covering a distance of 31.5 miles, but only arrived at 3:30 pm. The extended and aggravating travel time is unacceptable and is driving many New Yorkers to explore better alternatives in other states.

The Oyster Bay LIRR branch is in dire need of a comprehensive overhaul. The service’s speed and reliability must be enhanced by double-tracking and electrifying the entire branch. Additionally, the current diesel locomotives must be replaced with electric or battery-powered train sets designed for high platforms. Alternatively, the platform heights should be adjusted to accommodate the new standard train sets of the LIRR, the M9. This will allow the Oyster Bay Branch to extend to Grand Central Madison, which is currently inaccessible due to the diesel bi-level C5 train sets used on the line and other LIRR diesel territories being too tall for the new tunnel built for Grand Central Madison.

Moreover, this upgrade will alleviate congestion at Hicksville, Port Washington, and Syosset train stations since more residents will use their local train stations. Also, the addition of more express trains to Penn Station and Hunterspoint Avenue will reduce congestion at Jamaica Station, resulting in a more efficient and comfortable ride for commuters.

To attract and retain residents and businesses, New York needs to invest in its transportation infrastructure. The modernization of the Oyster Bay LIRR branch will generate employment opportunities, boost the local economy, and improve the daily lives of commuters. It’s high time for the state to take action and make the necessary changes to enhance the transportation system.

A petition has been initiated to bring the attention of the MTA and the wider NY metropolitan area to the plight of Oyster Bay Branch commuters who are frustrated with always being at the receiving end of substandard service.

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