2006_12_lirr.JPGA train commute without a buzz? The MTA may look into banning alcohol sales on LIRR and Metro-North trains. The NY Sun reports MTA board member Mitchell Pally as saying, "They can have as many beers as they want as soon as they get home. I would prefer we don't let anyone drink alcohol on the train. If we're not ready to go that far … the least we can do is not make it easy for people to do it, which is, don't sell it."

The safety issue, according to Mr. Pally, is drunk driving when tipsy passengers head to their homes from train stations. Long Island Rail Road has been selling alcohol on platforms and aboard trains since the 1950s, and Metro-North has been serving it since 1976. No car accidents directly related to onboard drinking have been reported, and bartenders on the trains are not allowed to sell alcohol to passengers who seem to them to be inebriated.

The LIRR sells alcohol on platforms at Penn Station, Flatbush and Jamaica, plus on a few rush hour trains as well as trains to the Hamptons during the summer. Metro North sells alcohol at Grand Central platforms, plus on its New Haven line. A Metro-North spokeperson pointed out that people could bring drinks onto the train from elsewhere and that a ban would be "unenforceable."

Gothamist suspects that the MTA might be partly motivated to consider banning alcohol after it blamed teenager Natalie Smead's LIRR platform death on her drinking; while Smead was not sold alcohol by the MTA, you bet the MTA's lawyers wonder what would happen if someone fell in a platform gap after drinking a beer from an LIRR bar keep? And the Post spoke to an anonymous LIRR barkeep, "The way I see it, I keep families together. A guy has a drink on the train ride home, and his wife picks him up at the station. Otherwise, he'd be driving around Long Island from bar to bar."

Photograph of LIRR train car by ranjit on Flirckr (check out the actual shot - it's very beautiful)