Here’s one reason that Long Island’s Orthodox commuters may be thankful despite experiencing the LIRR’s ongoing meltdown: It’s not December, and Shabbos starts after 5:30 — not 4:10 — pm.
With rides 20 or even 40 minutes longer than before, and no way to predict when ineptly scheduled LIRR trains will bring them home, commuters find that budgeting extra time (especially, for observant Jews, on Friday afternoons) is no longer just an option.
Of course, the chaos was not conjured up to make life difficult for Orthodox Jews — all train-riding Long Islanders were targeted for misery by the MTA’s clueless managers.
Whatever one might think of the $15-billion Grand Central Madison project and its eventual utility, two original sins doomed the railroad’s GCM-triggered scheduling upheaval:
1. Ending scheduled transfers at Jamaica, and
2. Dead-ending service to Brooklyn and daring commuters to use it.
It turns out the MTA was told more than a decade ago that its GCM ambitions were impossible to achieve without significant service cuts everywhere else.
If commuters weren’t prepared for the chaos they experienced over the last several days, it’s by design. MTA officials deliberately withheld information from the public, presumably because they knew that their plans were insane.
In the leadup to GCM’s opening, had LIRR management explained to riders what would be taking place and provided (as they falsely promised they would) proper forums for public input … if they then listened to that input with open minds … it might have been a better week.
At the moment, there’s no reason to expect that whatever service modifications trickle out in coming days will be much (if any) improvement. Without confronting their original sins (and then properly communicating with their passengers), MTA management will be sentencing LIRR commuters to long-term transit purgaotory.
Ed Weintrob, Editor & Publisher