While still trying to negotiate with the unions representing Long Island Rail Road workers, the MTA announced its contingency plans in case those LIRR workers go on strike on July 20th. The MTA said, "Buses, ferries and park-and-ride lots would all be mobilized to help New Yorkers travel in the event trains stop running. The MTA estimates all the forms of alternative transportation can serve more than three times more people than were assisted during the previous LIRR labor dispute. The MTA encourages Long Islanders to telecommute if possible, but for those who must travel to work, these alternative options provide a far more robust plan than two decades ago."

The MTA's full plans are below, but basically, there will be 350 buses shuttling customers from eight locations in Nassau and Suffolk Counties (Freeport, Bellmore, Seaford, Manhasset, Deer Park, Ronkonkoma, and Hicksville) to three Queens subway stations (Howard Beach A, Willets Point 7, Woodhaven M and R) but only during peak hours; free ferry service from Glen Cove to East 34th Street in Midtown; and the MTA is opening up parking lots for park-and-ride. Also, HOV lanes will require three people in cars, up from the usual two. The MTA also spoke to LI-based companies and got "commitments" that 18,000 workers can telecommute.

As for what the MTA and LIRR unions are fighting over, the LIRR workers have been working without a contract since 2010. Here's the WSJ on the latest:

The MTA's latest offer would give some 5,400 LIRR employees 17% raises in a deal that covers seven years and includes retroactive pay going back to 2010. Concessions sought by the authority include requiring current LIRR employees to contribute 2% of their regular pay toward their health-care coverage. They currently pay nothing toward such costs.

But new LIRR employees would get a different deal. Under the MTA's latest offer, they would take longer to reach top pay levels. New employees would contribute 4% of their pay toward health-care costs. And unlike current employees, they would also have to keep contributing to their pensions after 10 years on the job.

The Transit Workers Union, which represents NYC subway and bus workers, accepted a contract earlier this year where their contribution to health care costs increased to 2% from 1.5%.

The Post reports that a LIRR union "honcho" was bragging about a strike: "'We’re staying strong,' Anthony Simon told two other union members as they munched on a breakfast buffet at the Hilton’s Above restaurant. 'Our guys, we wouldn’t let them work. We’d shut down the whole system.'" Congress probably won't step in if there is a strike.

MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said of the contingency plan, "When the LIRR unions went on strike in 1994, Long Islanders had very limited options. There were no park-and-ride lots, no ferries, no real-time monitoring, no telecommuting. Today, the MTA has a far stronger, more robust, multifaceted plan. Working with the State and elected officials from across Long Island and the City of New York, we are providing more shuttle buses, thousands of parking spots near subway stations, a ferry service, real-time traffic management and real-time parking monitoring."

Some MTA details here—see more at MTA.info:

Buses

The MTA has worked with Long Island bus companies to establish a network of 350 buses that will shuttle customers from eight locations in Nassau and Suffolk counties to three major subway stations in Queens. The shuttle bus locations include seven LIRR stations and Nassau Community College.

The MTA expects the buses would be able to carry 15,000 customers—twice as many as the 7,000 people carried by buses during the 1994 LIRR labor outage.

The buses would operate during rush hours only, and only in the peak direction of travel. They will run into New York City between 4-7 a.m. and return to Long Island between 3-7 p.m. Disabled customers will also be able to use Access-A-Ride vehicles available at those locations.

Buses would travel along these routes:

In Suffolk County:
· Buses would pick up passengers at the Ronkonkoma and Deer Park LIRR stations and connect to the 7 subway station at Mets-Willets Point / Citi Field.

In Nassau County:
· Buses would pick up passengers at the Manhasset LIRR station and connect to the 7 subway station at Mets-Willets Point / Citi Field.
· Buses would pick up passengers at the Seaford, Bellmore and Freeport LIRR stations, as well as Nassau Community College, and connect to the A subway station at Howard Beach
· Buses would pick up passengers at the Hicksville LIRR station and connect to the M and R subway station at Woodhaven Boulevard

Ferry

A free ferry service would operate from Glen Cove to East 34th Street in Midtown. The ferry would do three westbound runs in the morning and three eastbound at night. They would be able to carry 1,000 customers and trips would take 40 minutes.

Parking at Glen Cove is very limited. The MTA recommends that passengers carpool or arrange for dropoff and pickup.

Park-and-Ride Lots

Dedicated park-and-ride lots would be established in Queens as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties, to provide more transportation options than were available in 1994. These lots would be monitored by spotters using social media to send real-time alerts about how many spaces are available.

· CitiField, where customers can connect to the 7 subway, has 4,000 available parking spaces
· Aqueduct Racetrack, where customers can connect to the A subway, has 3,000 available parking spaces.

We are also providing 8,400 parking spots in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, where friends and colleagues can meet to carpool together:

Suffolk County:
· Farmingdale State College
· Belmont State Park
· Sunken Meadow State Park
· Heckscher State Park

Nassau County:
· Valley Stream State Park
· Hempstead Lake State Park
· Bethpage State Park

All of these lots will be secured by MTA Police, Port Authority Police, the NYPD, New York State Police and other police agencies.

For Those Who Choose to Drive

There are also more than 100 public and private parking lots available within five blocks of subway stations in Queens and Brooklyn. Links to them are provided on our website.

The MTA is working closely with the State and Nassau and Suffolk counties to ease traffic as much as possible. The High Occupancy Vehicle lane on the Long Island Expressway will be expanded to require three people in a vehicle, not just two.

Nassau and Suffolk County Police will step up their enforcement on major routes to ensure smoother traffic flow. The State Department of Transportation has 50 portable variable message signs ready to guide customers to the carpool and shuttle lots in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Those messages will be updated in real time with travel times and parking lot capacities to give motorists maximum flexibility.

State DOT will also have tow trucks, Highway Emergency Local Patrol trucks and roadway maintenance crews at key locations to keep the roadways clear. All non-emergency construction and highway work will be suspended.

For More Information

Customers seeking more information should turn to the MTA’s website, www.mta.info, for full information about all the shuttle bus, ferry, parking and carpooling options. It will also provide links to the state’s carpooling website which matches riders together.

The MTA will provide information on Twitter, on Facebook, by email, by text message and on the LIRR’s Train Time mobile app. Details of these live feeds will be provided next week, if needed.