The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced LIRR strike contingency plans Friday that it concedes won't come close to meeting the workday demand or preventing highway gridlock -- drawing concerns from advocates and commuters.

If there's a strike, 350 shuttle buses will be provided as a "last resort" and thousands of parking spaces will be made available for carpoolers, officials said.

The announcement came on a day when there were no new contract talks, with the MTA continuing to evaluate a counteroffer presented by LIRR unions Thursday.

The MTA said the buses, which require an LIRR ticket, would be capable of shuttling roughly 15,000 commuters at eight Long Island locations to Queens subway stops -- a fraction of the 180,000 daily commuters the LIRR serves.

There would also be seven carpool staging areas in Nassau and Suffolk counties, 3,000 parking spots at Aqueduct Racetrack in southern Queens, and 4,000 at Citi Field in Flushing, officials said.

A special free ferry service would operate from Glen Cove to the East 34th Street dock in Manhattan, capable of transporting up to 1,000 people in each direction, according to the plan. Each trip would take about 40 minutes.

But the success of the plan depends on many workers either telecommuting or simply taking time off, MTA officials said. Corporate leaders in New York City have committed to allowing about 18,000 people to telecommute, a number that's expected to grow, they said.

Buses to the Howard Beach A train stop near Aqueduct would leave from Nassau County Community College in Garden City and the LIRR stations in Merrick, Freeport, Seaford and Bellmore, according to the plan.

Buses to Citi Field and the 7 subway line would leave from the Manhasset, Deer Park and Ronkonkoma LIRR stations, the plan said. Buses to the Woodhaven subway station and the M and R lines would leave from the Hicksville LIRR station.

The buses would leave the Island from 4 to 7 a.m. and return from 3 to 7 p.m. Riders would have to show an LIRR ticket to board a bus, and need a MetroCard to get on the subway.



With Darran Simon and Ken Schachter