Op-ed | LIRR and MTA bouncing back

Long Island Rail Road President Phillip Eng.
Photo courtesy of the MTA

By Phillip Eng, President of the MTA and LIRR

The world is changing in more ways than we’ve ever seen in our lifetime – but we’re keeping up. At the MTA and LIRR, we’re meeting these new challenges, adapting to current circumstances while strategically planning and building for the future. 

We energized our commitment to customer satisfaction in 2020 as we shattered several records at the LIRR: our on-time performance for the year was 95.9% (3.5 percentage points above 2019’s figures), maintenance and state-of-good repair work was completed at a pace not seen before in recent history, and we launched a total revamp of our LIRR TrainTime app to include industry-leading features to help customers navigate the system with more information than they’ve ever had before. 

This year we’re continuing this momentum and we’re off to a great start. In mid-January, we launched a brand-new feature in the TrainTime app that connects users via chat to one of our customer service agents, who are at the ready to answer your train-related questions seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Initial signs point to the success of this latest feature, with agents answering nearly 450 chats on our busiest day so far – during the Feb. 1 snowstorm – and more than 1,150 chats since the January 18 launch. 

This latest effort is helping us build on a robust customer service effort we launched shortly after I joined the railroad in spring 2018. That summer, we launched LIRR Care, a service that allows us to better serve customers with limited mobility who need an extra hand while using the LIRR. It’s proving vital as ever, with more than 6,000 customers helped to date – with more than 1,500 helped last year. Simply give us a call at 718-LIRR-CARE before you travel, and we’ll be there with a smile to help you along your way. 

To us, delivering premium customer service includes managing several key criteria: safety, reliability, accessibility, and robust, clear communication. Our teams across the entire agency are hard at work ensuring, even during this global pandemic, that our customers have public transportation they can count on to get them to and from where they need to go.

Our goal is to help customers navigate our system the safest, easiest, and quickest way possible. Innovative features like the app chat and programs like LIRR Care help us accomplish just that. We want to bring LIRR to even greater heights but through this pandemic we’re going to need significant additional emergency aid from the federal government to do so. With their partnership, we can make the LIRR the best commuter railroad our region has ever seen. I look forward to seeing you back on our trains – and I know you’ll see the difference.