Interim MTA Chair Ronnie Hakim did her best to alleviate Long Island Railroad riders' anxieties on Monday, detailing planned LIRR service changes for the "summer of hell" while Amtrak conducts emergency repairs at Penn Station. The game plan, she said, includes reducing the number of morning and evening trains to Penn Station with a mix of cancelations and reroutings to subway stations in Brooklyn and Queens. Contingencies include cross-honored shuttle buses and ferry service from points on Long Island; dozens of additional cars on the trains that do pass through Penn; free subway transfers for LIRR riders; and, if all else fails, a form letter asking your boss to please excuse your tardiness.

"Obviously it's going to be a long, hot summer," Hakim said.

A Penn Station Task Force established by Governor Cuomo is behind the LIRR plan, according to the MTA. Changes will go into effect on July 10th and will run through September 1st, assuming a timely completion of repairs. That's eight weeks, up from an early six week estimate.

The MTA anticipates 9,600 of a total 88,000 riders will be impacted by service changes on any given morning commute between 6:00 and 10:00 a.m., thanks to 15 canceled or rerouted trains daily. The MTA claims they will account for all of these riders by adding three additional trains on the early "shoulder" of the morning commute, as well as 36 additional train cars over 16 trains.

Of the 15 canceled and rerouted Penn Station trains, a portion will terminate at one of three NYC stations: five at Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, five at Jamaica in Queens, and three at Hunterspoint Avenue in Queens. LIRR riders will have free subway transfers to continue on to work. Similarly, 17 of 86 total evening trains will be canceled or rerouted, with some evening trains originating at Atlantic Avenue, Jamaica and Hunterspoint. Two trains will be added at Penn in the evenings, as well.

For granular service changes, the MTA is directing riders to their website for a full list of summer schedules on each LIRR line.

"This is an opportunity to look at what's the best way to get to work," said former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, a member of the task force. "If you work south of Penn Station, and take a train south to get to work, you might as well go to Atlantic Terminal and take to the 2, 3, 4, or 5."

Off the rails, the MTA also announced new cross-honored bus and ferry service from points in Long Island for riders with weekly and monthly unlimited passes. The buses will originate at eight park-and-ride stops on Long Island, and will run between 6:00 and 10:00 a.m., and between 3:00 and 7:00 p.m. in the evenings. The MTA plans to appease disgruntled riders with "free Taste NY food and beverage, on-site customer service, free reading materials, phone charging and Wi-Fi stations," according to today's release.

Manhattan morning drop-offs will include East 34th Street and 3rd Avenue; West 34th Street between Park and Lexington; and Grand Central Terminal. In the evenings, riders can catch a bus at West 34th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues; East 34th Street between Park and Lexington; East 42nd Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues; or Lexington Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets.

The MTA is planning to slash overnight truck tolls in half in an attempt to motivate truckers to avoid rush hour.

Ferry service will run from Glen Cove in Nassau County to 34th Street on the same morning and evening schedule, with three trips for each morning and evening rush. A second ferry will take riders from Long Island City to 34th Street, though those commuters will have to take a shuttle from the nearby Hunterspoint stop to catch it.

Mounting service delays and a pair of derailments prompted Amtrak to initiate emergency repair work this summer. Many riders are going in with low expectations, citing frequent commute disruptions without the added headache of track closures. This month, two LIRR riders are suing the MTA, the LIRR and New York City Transit—alleging negligence for the amount of emotional distress they've endured.

Unlike some NJ Transit riders, LIRR customers will not receive a fare discount this summer. Hakim emphasized that the bus and ferry service won't result in fare increases, either.

"I know who's not going to pay for it, and that's going to be the Long Island Railroad customer," Hakim said. "Right now we're exploring all of our options for how to pay for this plan."

"We... insist that fare reductions for those who will face severe disruptions and reductions in service quality must be put back on the table at the MTA," stated Mark Epstein, chair of the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council, which advocates for riders.

The MTA is urging riders to refer to mta.info for the most up-to-date summer schedules and service announcements. Hakim said that the MTA will try to accommodate a likely surge of LIRR riders transferring to the subway at Atlantic, Jamaica and Hunterspoint, though details were thin Monday. The subway, like Penn Station, is out of date and overcrowded.