Valley Stream, NY – Concerned residents and fellow state lawmakers hosted a rally to call for the appointment of a dedicated Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) president. The event, which took place in response to growing concerns about the current management structure, highlighted the urgency of focusing on the needs of the largest commuter railroads in the nation.
Following the retirement of the previous president in February 2023, the present management arrangement involves a single individual overseeing both the Metro North and Long Island Rail Road. However, voices from the community have expressed concerns about the apparent lack of attention given to such a demanding rail system.
The discontinuation of the 20-trip LIRR ticket plan was a poignant illustration of the necessity of a devoted LIRR president. The consequences of this decision have disproportionately affected hybrid workers and remote students, who heavily relied on the plan's affordability and flexibility. This action imposed an additional financial burden on regular commuters and posed a potential threat to the use of public transportation, which could exacerbate congestion and environmental pollution.
During the rally, Assemblywoman Solages and other lawmakers emphasized the urgency of filling the vacant LIRR leadership position with an individual who can fully dedicate their energy to the task.
Senator Kevin Thomas stated “the Long Island Rail Road needs a full-time President whose expertise and energy can go solely towards ensuring efficient and reliable service. Leaving Metro North and LIRR with a shared President raises legitimate worries about their ability to support both railways. This is not just about a position. It's about a genuine commitment to the
well-being of residents and the growth of our region. I join my colleagues in urging the MTA to appoint a permanent LIRR President as soon as possible.”
Senator Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick stated "One only has to look at the deteriorated condition of the Valley Stream LIRR Station to see the fiscal mismanagement of the MTA system. The MTA's capital distribution appears misguided, leaving essential areas like Valley Stream underserved. Months ago, I requested intervention along with my Senate colleagues, calling for a comprehensive forensic audit of the entire MTA system. Our community can no longer shoulder the weight of haphazard taxes and tolls while enduring the elimination of the one-way Atlantic Terminal ticket. The MTA must take responsibility for the excessive burden they've imposed on Long Island."
Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti stated, “I have developed a working relationship with Interim President Catherine Rinaldi, but we need more than interim leadership. Whether it’s Ms. Rinaldi or someone else, we deserve someone who can focus their attention – full-time – on the busiest commuter rail system in the country. With the large-scale changes implemented this year, we must have a singularly dedicated President running the Long Island Rail Road.”
Assemblywoman Taylor Darling echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the significance of a tailored approach to the Long Island community's transportation needs. "Long Island is a unique and special place. With such a diverse population, infrastructure like the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) must have proper and adequate oversight to ensure our communities are adequately cared for as they commute. In unity with Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages and fellow members of the Assembly, I wholeheartedly endorse the appointment of a President to oversee LIRR operations exclusively. This step is essential to ensure the railroad system continues serving our communities effectively."
“As the busiest commuter railroad in North America, the LIRR demands a president that will focus fully on ensuring its efficiency,” said Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square). “Just as a train needs a conductor to steer it towards its destination, the LIRR needs a capable and dedicated president to guarantee seamless commuter experiences, enhanced infrastructure and organized operations – this vital artery of our community needs effective leadership now.”
Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages expressed her gratitude to all who participated in the press conference, saying, "Today's event underscores our community's commitment to ensuring the vitality of our transportation infrastructure. The Long Island Rail Road is a lifeline for so many residents, and we must have dedicated leadership to chart its course. Today's support heartens me, and I will continue working tirelessly to address this issue."
The resounding calls made at this rally sends a clear message to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) that the community stands united in its call for a devoted President for the Long Island Rail Road. Assemblywoman Solages and her colleagues remain committed to pushing for positive change that directly benefits commuters, the environment, and the Long Island community at large.