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The Long Island Rail Road released its annual operating report this past February which showed an increase in lateness of trains over the past two years. PHOTO CREDIT: JOE SHLABOTNIK/FLICKR.COM

The Long Island Rail Road’s on-time performance has regressed for the fourth consecutive year, according to its annual operating report in February.  

Just 91.6 percent of LIRR trains arrived at their destination on time in 2015. This represents a 40 percent increase in lateness over the last two years and the worst overall performance for the LIRR since 2000. 

MTA Spokesman Salvatore Arena said that many of the root causes of lateness are out of the MTA’s control.

“It appears that delays caused by bad weather, customer emergencies, police activity and third party operations [such as Amtrak] were once again the top four causes of delays in 2015 as they were in 2014,” Arena said. “These are almost always unpredictable incidents.”

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According to the Suffolk County Comprehensive Master Plan 2035, More than 11 percent of employed Suffolk County residents commute to New York City for work, and a third of them take the LIRR. 

The delayed wait times have been problematic for many commuters. Seongin Hong commutes to Stony Brook University for classes on a daily basis, and said that the wait times have often caused him to be late.

“I ride the train everyday,” Hong said. “It’s late about three times a week.”

Sometimes, late trains can mean being late to work.

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“I take the train sometimes to go home and sometimes to go to work,” commuter Ethan Arnak said. “If it’s work I have to call to say I can’t make it to work on time, and most of the time that doesn’t sound good.”  

The MTA said it is working on a solution to these problems.

“The long-term solutions to these service interruptions are being addressed by major infrastructure improvements that will give the LIRR more operational flexibility,” Arena said. “The opening of East Side Access and direct service to Grand Central Terminal will split the Railroad ridership, easing congestion at Penn Station. The addition of second track on the Ronkonkoma Branch and a third track on the Main Line will allow the Railroad to operate service around  delayed trains.”

These proposals, however, will take years to complete. 

“East Side Access is scheduled for completion in 2023, the second track on the Ronkonkoma Branch by 2019,” Arena said. “The third track for the Main Line is still only a proposal, that may be a decade away, the improvement in on-time performance will come gradually as these projects are completed.”

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The lack of an immediate plan to address punctuality on the LIRR has not stopped them from raising rates. The MTA approved a four percent fare hike in 2015.

“I think it’s unfair,” Hong said of the price hikes. “”I take the train for just one stop and it costs $3 so I think it’s very expensive.”

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