TSTC Releases Third Annual “Laggy” Report

Photo: Joe Shlabotnik | Flickr

Tri-State Transportation Campaign released its third annual Laggy Analysis, which ranks the 11 branches of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) according to the greatest lost economic productivity, delay per rider and total lost time.

Tri-State’s analysis found that late, cancelled and terminated LIRR trains led to $106,071,541 in lost economic productivity from July 2014 through June 2015. For the third consecutive year, the Babylon branch contributed the most to lost productivity and lost time due to delays. For the second year in a row, the Port Jefferson branch had the greatest levels of delay per rider at 26.3 lost hours annually.

LIRR is a lifeline for Nassau and Suffolk County’s economies. Even with the delays, the LIRR contributes $50 million per day, or $18 billion annually, in economic productivity to the regional economy showing the importance of continued investment in short- and long-term needs. Every weekday, 301,000 riders rely on the LIRR to travel between Long Island and New York City for work or to visit.

Necessary investments in outdated and deficient LIRR infrastructure is underscored by the loss of $106 million in economic productivity. Limited track and station capacity has contributed to the late, cancelled and terminated trains and this overall economic loss. This year’s Laggy Analysis emphasizes the need for a completed Second Track by 2019, the Third Track project and a finished East Side Access for better LIRR service in the decades ahead.

This analysis precedes the March 31 deadline for the state budget and the approval of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 2015-2019 Capital Plan, which is 16 months behind schedule. Without an approved plan, scheduled LIRR improvements–including communication, track, signal and station projects–are in jeopardy. These projects can deliver short-term relief to LIRR riders as they await the completion of larger capital projects such as Third Track and East Side Access. Funding to jump start Third Track and East Side Access, however, is not yet identified. The Laggy analysis underscores the need to develop a funding plan not just for these projects, but also future MTA capital programs that include LIRR projects. The yet-to-be-approved 2015-2019 MTA Capital Program allocates $3.1 billion towards LIRR.

The Babylon, Ronkonkoma and Huntington branches contributed the most to lost productivity, winning the gold, silver and bronze Lost Productivity Laggies, respectively.

Laggy Award Branch Total Economic Cost ($)
  1. Gold
Babylon 25,638,016
  1. Silver
Ronkonkoma  19,791,160
  1. Bronze
Huntington 17,905,140

Tri-State also ranked branches based on total hours of delay and average delay per rider; a factsheet with all Laggy recipients in the three categories is available here.

To develop the Laggy methodology, Tri-State used the most recent available MTA ridership, on-time performance, lateness, termination and cancellation data along with Census-derived income assumptions regarding the value of lost time.

To maintain the system and respond to growing challenges such as climate change, increased ridership, and new development clustered around rail and bus hubs, Tri-State Transportation Campaign calls for:

  • The swift approval of the 2015-2019 MTA Capital Program
  • The identification of new, sustainable funding streams to avoid future delays of capital programs
  • A funding and outreach plan for the Right Track Expansion Project be developed quickly and be included in the program
  • The on-time, on-budget delivery of the Second Track project within the 2015-2019 Capital Program
  • Improved, real-time communications with customers regarding service

For 182 years, LIRR has been a critical piece of the Long Island and New York City economies. Unreliable transit comes at a hefty cost to both riders’ wallets and the regional economy as a whole. These capital improvements will upgrade LIRR’s resiliency and reliability while making Long Island a more attractive place to live and work. Failure to address these improvements, however, will lead to a perpetually delayed transit network, miring Long Island and the New York region in hindered economic growth.

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