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POLL: Should the LIRR Have Been Better Prepared for Belmont Crowds?

Thirty-six thousand traveled to Belmont via LIRR and many waited hours to catch a train back home.

(jlukechitwood Instagram)
(jlukechitwood Instagram)
Thousands of Long Island Rail Road passengers waited for hours to get home after the last races at the Belmont Stakes.

The slow-motion stampede of LIRR riders inched its way toward train platforms while vowing to never attempt mass transit from Belmont ever again.

About one-third of the more than 100,000 who attended the Belmont Stakes Saturday arrived on a LIRR train and MTA officials are admitting they never expected such a massive amount of people.

"We've never had that kind of ridership before at Belmont. . . .Thirty-six thousand people arrived at Belmont between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and they all wanted to leave within the same 60 minutes," LIRR spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said, according to Newsday.

New LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski publicly warned racegoers of such a situation last week, saying, "We will take you right to the grandstands. . . . After the event, we will take you home…The only problem there is everybody can't leave at once," Nowakowski said in Newsday

Patch readers have already reacted to the mass exodus following the races.

Related: Mad Dash From the Track Follows Belmont Stakes

Glenda said, "It was awful. It took us an hour and a half to go from the track to the shuttle. We shuffled a few feet every 15 to 20 minutes. I will never put myself in that position again. They predicted 100,000 people so it shouldn't have been a surprise that it would happen. Why weren't they better prepared ? They lost my attendance ever again. I have been taking the train for the Belmont Stakes for years and never experienced anything like it before."

Vinny Lee said, "We took a free NYRA shuttle bus from Jericho TPKE and Tulip. No problem going to track. Going home was a different story! After waiting over 90 minutes we were informed that the Shuttle bus is unable to enter track due to a horrendous traffic jam! We decided to walk over 2 miles to our car and return home to Rocky Pt. at 1130PM. Extremely poor traffic management. This was not the first Belmont Stakes and the Authorities should have done their homework re Traffic Management."

"Never again!" said Get Off My Lawn simply.

Read more commentary here.

Should LIRR have better prepared for the Belmont crowds? Is it a matter of having enough trains or does the infrastructure need a total overhaul? Should LIRR riders have known better than to leave all at once or does the LIRR need to better prepare for crowding? Tell us in the comments below and vote in our poll.

Christopher Wendt June 11, 2014 at 07:31 AM
@ Frank re: "I always wanted to understand why the LI region is not using MORE freight trains..." Modern rail freight is "intermodal", meaning truck trailers riding piggyback on flatbed rail cars (as opposed to loading the cargo in railroad "boxcars"). To work efficiently, the truck trailers are double-stacked on the flatbed rail cars, and the tunnels connecting Long Island with the rest of the country are not tall enough to allow double-stacked piggyback freight loads to come to LI. What little railroad freight comes to LI is shipped across NY Harbor into Brooklyn, on barges, or comes in the old boxcars. But there are very few places to unload boxcars full of freight on LI, and doing so requires too much labor and time. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The other problems with rail freight on LI are (1) virtually NOTHING from LI requires rail freight shipping OFF LI, making freight trains, here, a one-way proposition, which is costly, and, (2) Even if everything made or grown outside of LI came here on freight trains, all of it would still require TRUCK transport all over the Island in order to get it to consumers. LI does not have the infrastructure or network of Distribution Centers and truck terminals to handle that activity, plus, that kind of activity would not help with truck congestion and pollution. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I hope this makes some sense for you.
al June 11, 2014 at 08:22 AM
Mr Wendt re: Intermodal- In the 80's the LIRR started to get some special equipment that would allow for truck trailers to be hooked up to freight engines. I remember that there was at least one place on the "Main" line on a "WYE" in Farmingdale that was equipped with a lifting device that would remove the trailers from these special devices and place on the road (Budwiser and several other companies used them for a while). Though they were not stacked, they did work. The MTA never really pushed this service. The special devices kept the trailers low so the trains made it thry the tunnels. Yes we do not manufacture enough to warrant freight service off the Island but aren't the truck trailers going off island empty anyway. Once there were freight yards on the Island (Westbury, Garden City, Hicksville, Farmingdale and out in Brookhaven to name a few) but in at least two have been converted to shopping centers, and two converted to garbage transfer stations. The MTA even built a freight car repair facility at the old Holban? classification yard, kept it working for two years and then tore it down (used the property to build their big passenger car repair facility).

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