Thursday, December 18, 2014

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City Dwellers Sweat Out Threat of Possible LIRR Strike

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The threat of a strike on the Long Island Rail Road has New Yorkers who ride it out of town during the summer worried about getting stuck at home. NY1's jose Martinez filed the following report.

Planning to take the Long Island Rail Road for an escape from the city on a long holiday weekend? Enjoy it while you can. Those swarms of New Yorkers who rely on the commuter railroad for the weekend exodus out east are bracing for the impact of an LIRR strike that could come in a little more than two weeks.

"This is happening on my 40th birthday, great. I was going to go surfing out on Long Island on my 40th birthday," said one LIRR rider.

Well, don't pack away the surfboard just yet. There's still time for the MTA and the LIRR unions to make peace and keep the trains running, but the clock's ticking as New Yorkers start to sweat what could happen if more than 5,400 railroad workers legally walk off the job.

But with the unions balking at management's latest offer for 17 percent pay hikes spread across seven years, city dwellers are bracing for weekends spent closer to home.

"If we didn't have the train, it would be very unpleasant. It's obviously the easiest and the cheapest way to get out there. So, you know, it would be tough," said one LIRR rider.

"I think it would be a complete hassle for the people who live in the city and the people who have family out on Long Island," said another LIRR rider.

City residents are not without options, though. Those wedded to the idea of heading out east, even in case of a strike, can always try their hand in traffic or take the bus.

"Probably not the Jitney if it has to do with traffic. I'd probably go out there through Connecticut," said one city dweller.

Union leaders say they're serious about the first LIRR strike in two decades which has MTA brass preparing for the worst during a season when ridership from the city is high.

"It's a critical part of our business, it's a critical part of I don't know how many hundreds or thousands of businesses on Long Island that depend on that summer traffic," said MTA Spokesman Adam Lisberg.

The two sides are expected to resume contract talks next week.

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