LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD DESPERATELY NEEDS
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TIMESLEDGER | QNS.COM | SEPT. 11-SEPT. 17, 2020 13
BY PHILLIP ENG
It is fair to say that there’s no Long Island without
the Long Island Rail Road.
It’s no secret that we keep Long Island moving —
and not just to the world-class beaches. We moved —
and continue to move — the frontline workers of this
pandemic that helped New York weather some of our
But federal government inaction — in failing to allocate
$12 billion in emergency funds to the MTA —
is showing New Yorkers that our economic viability
doesn’t matter. Making matters worse, they’ve now
crossed a line no government agency should cross
when we all serve the public: FEMA is set to cut critical
funding that helps keep our system clean and disinfected
amid this ongoing global pandemic.
Denying help is one thing. But it’s unconscionable
to take steps that intentionally hurt the public.
It’s because of the leadership of Governor Andrew
M. Cuomo, and the heroic efforts of the frontline workers,
including the LIRR and entire MTA workforce,
and the public for doing their part in staying home and
wearing masks, that New York crushed the curve.
We’ve been doing our part: cleaning and disinfecting
our trains and stations at a rate and level never
before seen in our history. We’ve set up hand sanitizer
dispensers as our ambassadors hand out free masks at
stations. We have one of the most robust public health
campaigns currently out there. We’re keeping up these
efforts in anticipation of a possible second wave. We
need to be prepared. The latest cleaning funding cuts
from the federal government put us all at risk.
New York is and will continue to be resilient. Because
of all our efforts, I’m grateful now to see a slow
and steady resurgence of the great state we call home.
And I remain hopeful as we welcome customers back
to our system.
We need to keep this momentum and we need to
keep going. And we need to make sure our employees
and customers remain safe.
We know the value of public transportation in our
densely populated corner of the world. It cannot be underestimated
what commuter rail — that served more
than 91 million trips last year — means to a metropolis
like ours. And we wouldn’t be what the governor
rightly calls New York Tough without fighting for
Washington: We need major federal funding. Now.
Our future, New York’s future and, quite frankly, the
nation’s future, lies in the balance.
Phillip Eng is president of the Long Island Rail
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