MTA Long Island Rail Road President Phillip Eng announced the launch of a new service — LIRR Care — that will serve as a customer assistance program for those with mobility issues who need an extra helping hand to navigate the railroad system.
This on-call service is available 24-hours a day, seven-days a week, including holidays, to help customers with mobility limitations that require assistance to board and/or exit from a LIRR train. The service is available to, but not limited to, customers who use a wheeled mobility device.
LIRR Care is an expansion of LIRR’s previous Call Ahead program, where customers were asked to call three hours in advance of their rides between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Now, the extended, round-the-clock hours are available by using the agency’s new, easy-to-remember phone number — 718-LIRR-CARE — for access to trains throughout the LIRR system. Calls to this number will be answered by the railroad's Customer Service Center, where employees will help coordinate assistance with appropriate personnel aboard trains, or at stations. The agency is asking that customers call at least two hours in advance of their trip.
Adding to this service, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day, LIRR Customer Service Ambassadors will be stationed at LIRR's main terminals — at its Customer Service Desk at Penn Station in Manhattan, and its Ticket Offices at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, and Jamaica Station in Queens — where customers can request assistance in person, just 15 minutes prior to a train departure.
These Ambassadors — who are identifiable by the orange vests they wear — will assist with station-to-station coordination with train crews. They will escort the passenger to an elevator, if necessary, and to the track level, where they will be met by a conductor on the train who will assist with a bridge plate, to help them onto the train. At the passenger's destination, the train's conductor will again assist with a bridge plate to ensure they disembark safely.
As part of LIRR Forward, Eng's working philosophy to improve the commuting experience by hardening LIRR infrastructure and revamping customer communication, this enhanced program was developed by a team of railroad employees across several departments, which consulted LIRR customers in the disability community.