Douglaston talks trains

Photo by Phil Corso
By Phil Corso

Braving the pouring rain, City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) joined with Douglaston leaders last week to host the first of three community forums with the Long Island Rail Road.

Though the event was met with an unusually colossal amount of rain around 5 p.m. July 18, those who made the trip were rewarded with the unique opportunity to speak off-the-cuff with LIRR officials directly, just as Halloran said he intended.

“Many of my constituents rely on the Long Island Rail Road every day to get to work,” Halloran said. “For commuters, the LIRR is a huge part of their day. These forums give LIRR riders a chance to voice their questions and concerns directly to LIRR senior management.”

The officials met with Douglaston residents, including GOP-backed state Senate hopeful Joe Concannon and Community Education Council 26 President Jeanette Segal, steps away from their local train station at the nearby Giftalicious gift shop, at 42-34 235th St., to discuss which issues mattered to them most.

Center for the Women of New York Chairwoman Ann Jawin advocated for increasing access at the area station.

“It is a priority here. A lot of people come here to use the train station,” Jawin said.

Jawin asked LIRR Branch Line Manager Matthew Baudier and Government Relations Specialist Hector Garcia if there were plans to renovate the Douglaston station so that it complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, making it more accessible for handicapped passengers.

According to the LIRR, there were no official plans in place to make any structural changes to the station.

In addressing another of Jawin’s questions, Baudier said the LIRR mandated that each station include at least one pay phone in the event of any passenger emergencies. Halloran brought the issue back to ADA-accessibility, adding that if Douglaston was equipped with only one pay phone, it would be easily accessible only to passengers on that side of the tracks.

Douglaston Civic Association President Eliott Socci asked the LIRR reps if they had plans to keep the stations open later during the winter so passengers do not have to be stuck outside waiting long hours for trains. According to Garcia, the LIRR already has tested the idea quietly at nearby stations as a pilot program and will look into Douglaston as a possible candidate.

In a discussion over how to handle broken ticket machines, Baudier and Garcia outlined how passengers could get same-day verification after being forced to pay the higher on-board fees.

Halloran, however, was not completely satisfied with the response.

“It is unfair to have a machine broken, which isn’t a passenger’s fault, and then make them have to jump through hoops to have it resolved,” Halloran said.

Nonetheless, the LIRR representatives said they were happy to be meeting face-to-face with their customers and were looking forward to future forums, including an Aug. 15 event at C.J. Sullivan’s in Bayside at 5 p.m. and another in Auburndale Aug. 29 at a location to be determined.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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