The Long Island Rail Road is calling off new service cuts after commuters reported scenes of frighteningly packed trains on Monday, officials said.
“We heard our customers’ concerns about our new schedule loud and clear. As a result, we will restore our previous timetable on March 29,” LIRR President Phil Eng said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
“In the meantime, we will continue to strategically add additional trains and lengthen trains to meet evolving ridership levels.”
The cuts — which reduced service from 80 percent to 75 percent pre-pandemic levels — were set to save $15 million, the MTA said.
An MTA spokesman said the 20-day wait to reverse the cuts will allow officials to reschedule construction planned around the cuts. Railroad workers will also have to reapply for jobs in accordance with the new schedule.
Commuters, politicians and advocates were furious Monday after photos on social media showed standing room only trains. Many expressed concerns about catching COVID-19 from their fellow commuters.
On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo — whose aides dominate the MTA board — also signaled that he was against the cuts, which his hand-picked MTA leadership announced in February.
“It was basically a weekend schedule on a weekday,” said Lisa Daglian of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA. “Tempers were flaring, space was short and trains were overcrowded. Those do not make for a good combination.”
LIRR ridership stands at 24 percent pre-pandemic levels, according to the MTA. Advocates expect that number to increase as the city continues its slow crawl to reopening.
“More people are returning to their places of employment. Employers are expecting more people to travel in,” Daglian said.
“People want to return to normalcy, and the best way to do that is to provide them with reliable transit.”