Metropolitan Transportation Authority - Long Island Rail Road


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NYS Comptroller


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Metropolitan Transportation Authority - Long Island Rail Road
Service Diversions for Maintenance and Capital Projects

Issued: March 18, 2014
Link to full audit report 2010-S-63
Link to 90-day response

To determine whether the MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) (1) effectively managed service diversions due to scheduled track maintenance and capital projects and (2) adequately informed the riding public about service diversions. Our audit covered the period January 1, 2009 through August 16, 2011.

The LIRR is a constituent agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), and provides commuter rail service between New York City and the suburban counties of Nassau and Suffolk. A "service diversion" takes place when LIRR must close all or a part of a track line for capital projects or maintenance. When service diversions are underway, trains are diverted from their regular route so workers can safely access the tracks. Diversions should be scheduled in the most cost effective manner and to minimize the disruption on the riding public. Whenever commuters are expected to be affected by a planned diversion, Public Affairs is responsible for notifying the public in advance.

Key Findings

  • The annual Outage Plan for service diversions was reduced by 1,483 days (29 percent) in 2009 and 1,655 (35 percent) in 2010. These revisions were not approved in writing by executive management. Substantial changes such as these should be approved by executive management.
  • The number of days planned for specific aspects (elements) of service diversions was not always supported. For example, nine of the 15 elements we sampled required 691 outage days, but there was no support for how this was determined. In addition, the actual cost for each element was not tracked to determine whether work was completed within budget.
  • Train tracks were not always turned over to work crews in a timely manner to accomplish the work necessary for the service diversions. Our review showed several instances where tracks were turned over to crews 70 minutes late on average.
  • The public is informed of large diversions, however, LIRR Public Affairs needs to do more to inform the public of other planned diversions.

Key Recommendations

  • Require executive management to review and approve significant changes in the Outage Plan.
  • Track the actual costs of service diversion elements for comparison to budgeted costs.
  • Support the resource requirements of planned diversions with adequate documentation.
  • Ensure tracks are made available for service diversion work in a timely manner.
  • Adequately inform the ridership about all service diversions.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

Metropolitan Transportation Authority/New York City Transit: Subway Service Diversions for Maintenance and Capital Projects (2010-S-34)

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Carmen Maldonado
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236