Evening rush-hour cancellations and delays on New York's Long Island Rail Road have reached their highest level in 10 years, according to transit data analyzed by the Wall Street Journal.
Problems at Amtrak-managed Penn Station have caused many of this year's problems, but the LIRR's performance also has become increasingly unreliable over the past four years, the Journal found.
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From 2008 through 2012, the LIRR's systemwide on-time evening rush-hour performance averaged 93 percent during the first four months of those years. Over the last five years, it dropped to 87 percent.
LIRR President Pat Nowakowski tied the issue to ridership that's at its highest level since 1949; it rose 10 percent between 2011 and 2016 to 89 million people a year.
That requires more trains: Last year 247,000 trains were scheduled, a 7.4 percent increase from 2011.
"Because everything is scheduled so precisely and so tightly to flow with one another, when one gets delayed, you have a domino effect," Nowakowski said.
He said the best way to improve on-time performance is to increase capacity. Work scheduled for completion in 2022 will connect the LIRR to Grand Central Terminal. Another project, still in an early phase, will add a third track to part of the LIRR's main line.
The LIRR operates on about 3 miles of Amtrak-owned infrastructure into and out of Penn Station.
An Amtrak spokeswoman, Christina Leeds, said extensive repair work will "improve reliability for all customers."
Meanwhile, amid that work, commuters on the LIRR and New Jersey Transit are expected to endure what New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has termed a "summer of hell."
Information from: The Wall Street Journal, http://www.wsj.com