Getting around the New York area will be more difficult for those who rely on mass transit. The Long Island Rail Road, which has 700 miles of track and averaged more than 350,000 passengers a day, is cutting services amid the coronavirus pandemic in an attempt to financially recover from the drop in passengers across the Metropolitan Transportation Authority system.

Members of the LIRR Commuter Council are concerned the cuts to the service could cause crowding for riders, according to a report from New York-area news outlet News 12.

“It is going to happen we are going to have trains during rush hour that are going to be crowded. We are very conscious because you still want to social distance even with the mask you still don’t want two people in a two-seater,” Gerard Bringmann, chairman of the LIRR Commuters Council, said in a statement.

On Monday, the LIRR began operating on a new schedule that would consist of fewer trains throughout the day but continued service to all 11 branches.

The change has been made to provide a cost-effective way to accommodate the pandemic-related dip in passengers.

During off-peak hours, passengers can catch trains between West Hempstead and Speonk every two hours while Port Jefferson and Huntington lines will run every 90 minutes.

LIRR riders destined for Hempstead, Ronkonkoma, Far Rockaway, Long Beach, and Port Washington can count on trains coming once an hour. Meanwhile, trains in Babylon and Huntington will run every half hour.

“The new schedules will provide continued service on all 11 branches, and will allow us to operate more efficiently while supporting critical infrastructure work,” the transit agency said in a statement.

Despite the changes to service, the LIRR will continue to charge off-peak prices on all train rides, including peak hours. Ridership is down an estimated 76%, according to the MTA.

The cuts to service are expected to save the LIRR $15 million in operating costs.

LIRR President Phil Eng revealed they will track the number of passengers and will change the schedules to lower overcrowding on the trains if necessary.

Long Island Railroad
Commuters leave a Long Island Railroad train at Pennsylvania Station in New York July 15, 2014. Reuters/Shannon Stapleton