Since 2002, When LIRR Installed New Fleet of Cars, Commuters Have Raised Concern With Key Elements of Design; Commuters Have Raised Issues with Arm Rests, Which Can Snag Clothing and Tear Pockets, As Well As Blinding Glares And Lack of Clear Information

With Design of New Trains Underway, Schumer Presses Long Island Rail Road to Incorporate Community Input To The Design Process; Schumer Urges LIRR to Hold Public Meetings, Create an Online Suggestion Box or Conduct a Passenger Survey So that Commuters Are Aware of the Redesign & Included in the Process

Schumer: LIRR Should Consult the Experts – Its Riders – To Improve Both Train Design & Rider Satisfaction

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to consult customers and incorporate community input when designing the new M-9 cars, which is currently under review. LIRR is purchasing their next generation of trains from Kawasaki, which are scheduled to come online by 2017, and there is still room for changes to the interior design. Schumer explained that, as the busiest commuter rail in the country, and given the high price of monthly passes, the LIRR should take rider satisfaction and “commuter comfort” into consideration when designing the new cars. Specifically, Schumer pointed to a number of suggestions from commuter advocates including, an arm rest redesign to avoid ripped clothing, improved clarity of the speakers making public address announcements, WiFi connectivity, USB and AC power outlets, tinted windows to prevent blinding glares and more. Schumer today said that while these are relatively inexpensive changes to these cars, they would not only enhance the experience of LIRR’s commuters, but would boost ridership. Schumer also said that the LIRR should hold public meetings, create an online suggestion box or conduct a passenger survey so that commuters are aware of and included in the train redesign process.


“For the amount of money that Long Island commuters pay to use the railroad, and the amount of time they spend onboard the railroad each week, they should expect a safe and on-time ride, but also a comfortable and convenient one. And, with the LIRR in the process of procuring a new train set, we want LIRR commuters at the table when it comes to improving car design,” said Senator Schumer. “With interior design changes still on the table, it is critical that the next generation of cars are improved upon to avoid issues with other recent models; commuters should not be consistently ripping clothing on arm rests, in-cabin display boards should be clear and show all destinations to avoid missing a stop, and daily commuters should not be blinded with the sun’s glare as they try to do work and make the most of their long commute. Interior design tweaks will not be very expensive, but will make all the difference for commuters, and I implore the LIRR to review the menu of comfort options our commuters have outlined and incorporate the best suggestions when designing the new fleet of trains.”

Schumer was joined by Long Island Commuter Council Chairman, Mark Epstein and Vice Chairman Matt Kessler. 

The LIRR system is one of the busiest commuter railroads in North America, serving approximately 300,000 riders per weekday. Passengers on the LIRR can pay as much as $363.00 for a monthly train from stations like Ronkonkoma, significantly higher than monthly passes for other transit systems. Past reports have highlighted issues with “commuter comfort” along the LIRR. For example, according to Newsday, after the LIRR installed new cars in 2002, commuters complained that the armrests had a tendency to rip the pant and skirt pockets of commuters. Specifically, from 2003 to 2010, the LIRR reimbursed 1,866 claims for ripped pockets totaling $153,703. In addition, there is currently no place onboard the trains for commuters to put a cup of coffee or other liquid and as a result, the LIRR has reported 45 onboard customer slip-and-fall incidents this year.

Schumer noted that purchasing the new M-9 cars is part of the MTA’s capital plan, which is largely funded with federal grant dollars. New York receives approximately $1.3B in federal capital assistance annually for transit related projects, the vast majority of which goes to the MTA. Given that the design phase is still an open process, Schumer urged than an entire fleet of new cars avoid serious issues with comfort for commuters.

Schumer today is urging the LIRR to incorporate community input when designing the new M-9 cars for the railway. Specifically, Schumer is urging the LIRR to hold public meetings, create an online suggestions box, or seat drop a passenger survey so that commuters are included in the redesign process.

Schumer today listed a number of passenger safety and comfort improvements that the LIRR should consider for the M-9 trains:

-          Arm rest redesign to avoid ripped pants, skirts, etc.

-          Improved clarity of the speakers making public address announcements

-          A digital display showing the next stop and further stops, along with an estimated time until arrival at those stops

-          USB & AC power outlets

-          WiFi connectivity

-          Tinted windows to prevent blinding glares and greenhouse effect

-          For rows of three seats, a seating design aimed at reducing crowding for the middle passenger

-          Restroom door that is buffered to prevent it from closing too fast


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