The MTA Long Island Rail Road was joined by the LIRR Commuters Council Wednesday in announcing a pilot program to expand the hours of some of the railroads' station waiting rooms.
The LIRR is extending the waiting room hours at 41 stations as part of its ongoing effort to improve customer service and in response to concerns raised by LIRR Commuter Council, which pressed for later afternoon and evening access to station facilities on behalf of customers.
The 41 stations will have their waiting room hours extended until 10 p.m. in the evening on weekdays. LIRR station waiting rooms typically open between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. on weekdays. Prior to the pilot, most station waiting rooms closed by mid-afternoon.
“By expanding the waiting room hours in this pilot program, we are looking to provide an added level of customer service,” LIRR President Helena Williams said. “We realize that our customers are traveling our system at all hours of the day. By making the waiting rooms available for greater periods, customers have the convenience of waiting for trains out of the elements. We’ve been working closely with the LIRR Commuter Council on this issue and we appreciate their input.”
Earlier this year in a pilot program, the LIRR extended waiting room hours until 10 p.m. on weekdays at 20 stations. Those stations included: Bellerose, Bethpage, Brentwood, Douglaston, Farmingdale, Great Neck, Kings Park, Little Neck, Lynbrook, Merrick, Mineola, Oakdale, Oceanside, Patchogue, Roslyn, Sayville, Stony Brook, Valley Stream, Wantagh and Woodmere.
The LIRR closely monitored conditions at these 20 stations and determined that the extended hours did not result in significant additional cleaning or vandalism issues, allowing the pilot to be expanded.
The LIRR is now expanding this pilot program to include an additional 21 stations – bringing the total number of stations to 41. The additional stations include: Baldwin, Broadway, Cedarhurst, Central Islip, East Hampton, Floral Park, Forest Hills, Greenlawn, Island Park, Kew Gardens, Lindenhurst, Northport, Queens Village, Rockville Centre, Ronkonkoma, Rosedale, Sea Cliff, Seaford, Smithtown, St. James and Westbury.
The LIRR will carefully monitor and assess the impact of extending the waiting room hours as the pilot program enters its second phase and may modify or end the program at particular stations, if circumstances warrant.
All station waiting rooms involved in the pilot program (with the exception of Ronkonkoma) have automated locks to open and close the waiting room doors. As is currently the practice at waiting rooms with automated locks, approximately five minutes prior to the scheduled closing time, an automated announcement is made in the waiting room to alert occupants that the doors will be locking to allow sufficient time to exit.
Detectors within the waiting rooms alert the LIRR’s security department if someone remains in the waiting room once the doors are locked.