Ahmed Iftikhar drives from Mineola with his wife to the Bayside LIRR station every day except Sundays to set up his newsstand and open at 5 a.m.
He serves coffee, snacks, newspapers and magazines to a portion of the 4,000 daily commuters who use the station for 14 hours, making an average of $200 per day in sales, he said. Each month he pays $3,450 for rent and about $300 in utilities.
The potential LIRR work stoppage, which could start on Sunday, would not only strand thousands of commuters, but also hurt small businesses in Queens like Iftikhar’s newsstand, which depends on LIRR service for customers.
“If they do the strike, I’ll be sad,” Iftikhar said. “I’ll be very upset. What would we do in the future?”
While some LIRR stations in Queens, such as Jamaica, which has subway lines nearby, wouldn’t be as affected, others that depend primarily on the LIRR service could feel an impact, businesses and community leaders said. Businesses, such as the deli and café near the Douglaston LIRR station, stand to lose potential customers in the 2,000 daily commuters at the station.
“Of course no one is happy about it,” said Dorothy Matinale, president of the Douglaston Village Chamber of Commerce.
The manager of Kelly’s Car Service, located near the Bayside station, said if the strike occurs they expect road traffic to be slow for further trips, as the MTA expects more drivers to be on the road.
“Going into Manhattan would be impossible,” manager Richard Pearlman said.
Pearlman couldn’t anticipate how the strike would affect business, but said the car service is thinking of offering trips directly to subway stations on Main Street, although plans have not been finalized.
While the unions and the MTA continue to negotiate, Iftikhar hopes they’ll patch it up soon.
“It’s a little problem,” he said. “If they solve it, it’ll be nice for everyone.”