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Op-ed | Get away with the LIRR, and leave your car at home

Long Island Rail Road President Phil Eng
Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit

A bustling Penn Station during the typical morning and afternoon rush has been an iconic image of New York City’s landscape for the past several decades. In 2021, the Long Island Rail Road is so much more than just a business commuter rail. 

 Prior to the pandemic, ridership was booming – breaking modern records year after year. But the level of commuters riding was holding steady. It was discretionary travelers, the ones who took trains for leisure and on the weekends to their favorite destinations, that kept boosting the figures. 

 Now, as we continue to battle the pandemic, ridership is bouncing back around-the-clock. We’re seeing more commuters return to the LIRR as offices reopen, and we’re again seeing that same trend of rising ridership during typical non-commuting days and times. 

We’re excited to see ridership numbers continue to exceed the projections — and I truly believe we’ll keep seeing the numbers rise.

This trend is continuing to demonstrate that people know not only that the railroad is safe, but it’s the best way to be able to kick back and relax while getting to your destination and avoiding traffic.

Our robust schedules running 24/7 can take you across hundreds of miles from New York City, Brooklyn, Queens, through Nassau and Suffolk counties all the way to the East End. One of the best parts? No matter what time of day you travel, you’ll only have to pay the off-peak fare through the end of 2021. That means less time stuck in traffic, and more money in your wallet. 

To help encourage customers to return to the railroad, we’ve relaunched several popular initiatives that were suspended last year during the height of the pandemic including the South Fork Commuter Connection. We’ve also eliminated the need for special permits to bring bikes aboard trains, making it easier for people who want to use their bikes for that last-mile connection. 

The Summer Saturdays program was a success once again, and we were thrilled to start up Autumn Weekends last month, running through November 21. This program offers monthly ticket holders the option to bring up to four people with them on the train for just $1 each, to any of 124 LIRR stations no matter where your ticket is to/from. 

Come take advantage of the savings we have going on through the end of the year and go out and explore. We’re here to get you there. 

Phil Eng is president of MTA Long Island Rail Road.

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