Moving the LIRR ‘Forward’ during the COVID-19 pandemic
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TIMESLEDGER | QNS.COM | JULY 17-JULY 23, 2020 15
BY PHIL ENG
As we welcome more and more customers back
onto the Long Island Rail Road, it’s clearer than
ever that the progress we’ve made over the past two
years through “LIRR Forward” can’t stop now.
We continue to follow the philosophy of the
LIRR Forward blueprint to provide robust reliability
and exemplary customer service, while at
the same time finding ways to cut costs and innovate
instead of following decades-old industry
standards that have long fallen short of our needs
and those of our customers.
We’ve executed project and maintenance delivery
in ways many people haven’t witnessed in decades.
How did we get this done? Smart decisions
and the hard work, dedication, and pride of our
7,600-strong workforce. Even as the novel coronavirus
slammed New York and affected our own
ranks, we’ve been working creatively to embrace
new ways to get work done efficiently.
Over the past several months, we banded together
once again, as heroes moving heroes, with
management teams across Maintenance of Equipment,
Transportation, and Engineering departments
that focused on controlling costs while
delivering robust, safe, and reliable Essential Service
for frontline workers.
A partnership with the Transportation Communications
Union (TCU) leadership helped create
new roles using existing staff. At the height
of the pandemic, a newly formed ‘GO Team’ was
deployed to employee facilities whenever a worker
was suspected of having been exposed to the virus
to disinfect that workspace. As the number of
cases dwindled on LI, this team was repurposed to
disinfect smaller, remote employee facilities like
trailers and signal huts (previously cleaned by
contractors), saving money.
When the virus forced us to close ticket windows,
we reassigned ticket agents as Station Ambassadors
at nearly 30 stations, engaging with
customers and assisting station maintainers in
disinfecting key touchpoints to supplement aggressive
cleaning protocols. They also provide
masks to customers who left home without face
coverings and monitor hand sanitizer dispensers,
among other duties.
We didn’t take our job in this lightly. And now
we need the federal government to step up so we
can continue to do our part to help bring back New
York’s economy, and in turn, the nation’s economy.
Each one of us did our part to take Long Island
from one of the country’s hot spots to Phase 4 reopening.
New York: Help keep the curve flattened
by doing the right thing. Wear a face covering. You
never know whose life it’s going to save.
Let’s keep this progress up.
Phil Eng is president of the Long Island Rail
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