Testimony Regarding the Third Track for the Long Island Rail Road Main Line

Regional Plan Association Testimony before the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on December 13, 2017, calling on the MTA approve the contract to build the Third Track on the Long Island Rail Road Main Line, delivered by RPA Senior Vice President and Chief Planner, Chris Jones.  

My name is Chris Jones, and I’m the Senior Vice President and Chief Planner for Regional Plan Association.

I’m here to express Regional Plan Association’s strong support for a Third Track on the Long Island Rail Road Main Line, and to urge the MTA board to approve the contract to move this vital project forward. 
The economic and environmental benefits of this project are clear, and both Long Island and New York City will benefit. For Long Island, it will provide increased service and greater reliability to over 100,000 riders and is expected to add nearly $6 billion and 14,000 jobs to Long Island’s economy.  For New York City, it will provide employers with improved access to Long Island’s workforce and give residents of Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan greater access to job opportunities in Nassau and Suffolk.

It would also help update a transit system that has largely remained the same since it was constructed decades ago, allowing the LIRR to catch up with Metro-North and NJTransit. Over the last 20 years, Metro North and NJTransit have made major investments in new capacity. These projects, including the construction of a third track along Metro-North’s Harlem Line, and have allowed these systems to be more flexible and resilient with better service for reverse commuters and off-peak travel. 

And as outlined in RPA’s regional rail proposal in our recently released Fourth Regional Plan, expanded capacity on LIRR’s Main Line is essential to creating a fully integrated commuter rail network with through running service between all parts of the New York region, drastically reduced travel times, and enough capacity to allow the region’s economy to grow.
Thank you for this opportunity to share my comments.