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LIRR Looks to Future with Safety Measures for Commuters

NEW YORK (77 WABC) — LIRR President Phillip Eng said his commuter line has been nimble and adapting since moving to essential-only ridership amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But restarting fully would likely bring some major changes from the rail line and passengers.

“For right now and until the foreseeable future, yes, face coverings will be required, not only on the trains, but in our platforms and in our stations,” Eng told WABCRadio.c0m

While that is one way to deal with rush hour, a better way, Eng suggested, is telecommuting as much as possible or staggering work hours at the office.

“We anticipate that it will be a gradual return to work for folks,” Eng said.

For those who do ride the rails until COVID-19 is under control, they may have some apprehension. One measure being mentioned as safeguard is doing temperature checks, but Eng said that may prove too difficult.

“That is something that is being reviewed by our headquarters folks. They’re monitoring what’s going on at other transportation agencies,” Eng said. “I would say with those types of things, quite frankly, it’s a challenge with regards to being able to take the temperature of every rider entering a train and still run trains on time.”

But he said if technology can get quicker results, “I think we would certainly look [that].”

However, commuters can expect all trains getting regularly sanitized. Eng said the usual wipes across the fleet was a time-consuming undertaking.

“We’re using botanical EPA-approved disinfectant and, what we’re able to do now is we took a 30-minute process in a train car, for example, as we’ve gotten it down to five minutes.”

During service for essential workers, the LIRR is not allowing payments by cash on the train, in effort to reduce spread of the coronavirus.

Eng said that is on the table as long-term goal.

“We want to minimize the contact time between customers and our train crews,” Eng said. “That’s for the safety of both. Cash is something we’ll have to evaluate moving forward.”

A goal for Eng and the staff at the LIRR is to “make everyone feel comfortable.”


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