By Philip Newman
The report of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA also said the LIRR has been a bad neighbor to many communities through which it operates trains.The Metropolitan Transportation Authority appointment of Williams was an encouraging step, the PCAC said.”Her knowledge, experience, energy and openness about the need to make improvements at the LIRR are most welcome,” the committee said.It said “smart moves in her first six months included hiring former Metro-North President Donald Nelson to undertake a comprehensive review of the LIRR's operations and to advise on improving the track configurations at Jamaica.” The group also applauded her decision to use the consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton to evaluate “the failing diesel fleet.”The PCAC also listed what the agency called improvements:The LIRR instituted substantial service improvements in mid-2007 by adding a.m. and p.m. peak period, evening, weekend and summer service to a variety to stations and branches.The report lauded the LIRR for “a proactive approach to autumn 'slip-slide' this year with a number of initiatives to remedy problems caused by wet leaves on tracks.The LIRR's new M-7 cars have greatly improved service reliability as the cars continue to perform well above expectation.The report gave the LIRR good marks for becoming a leader in its public information campaign to make riders aware of the gap and its efforts to reduce the gap at station platforms.The PCAC said another positive step was video information screens which inform passengers of real time service disruptions in addition to regular schedule information.But the PCAC said the railroad “must take steps to improve access and increase service to the LIRR New York City stations, a situation already covered in a PCAC previous report, “A Long Day's Journey into Work.”The PCAC acknowledged that the LIRR had begun a new campaign to encourage better customer behavior. “While the campaign is a positive step, the LIRR must be vigilant about enforcing cell phone and seat space protocols,” it said. “These are tricky issues but abuses are widespread and greatly resented by riders.”The report said the LIRR's diesel fleet has been plagued by perennial problems and needs a long-term plan to correct the problem.”The LIRR is seen as a bad neighbor,” the report said. “Complaints continue unabated from commuters and the communities about the deplorable condition of the station areas and right of way, insensitive tree care along their right of way and the unnecessary blowing of train horns,” the PCAC said.”The group urged the LIRR to do a better job of communicating with elected officials in the communities it serves.”The LIRR's ability to communicate is a failure at every level and there has not been clear and decisive leadership to address it,” the committee said.The problem of failure at communication has “created intense rider frustration and anger at the LIRR,” it said.Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.