(New York -WABC, July 9, 2004) — For so many commuters it's a horrifying thought: The busiest commuter railroad in North America, the Long Island Railroad, has come up with a contingency plan to bypass Penn Station, its main drop off point, during the Republican National Convention.
If it's used, 274,000 daily passengers would be let out in Queens and Brooklyn. Eyewitness News' N.J. Burkett has the Eyewitness News exclusive story.
Eyewitness News has learned that the Long Island Railroad has been thinking the unthinkable for months. That plan has been handed over to the U.S. Secret Service, and clearly a total shutdown of Penn Station cannot be ruled out.
Commuters running for their trains tonight called it a nightmare in the making, and said they can't even think about a situation where they couldn't get to work or into the city.
Last week, in a secret meeting with railroad officials, the Secret Service asked for and was given a detailed contingency plan in the event Penn Station were to be shut down during
The Long Island Railroad can bypass Penn Station entirely with trains that terminate or originate in Brooklyn or Queens. Passengers can change over in Jamaica to the E, J or Z subway lines. In Woodside they can transfer to the Number Seven line. Trains to Hunters Point Avenue also can connect with the Number Seven line. And commuters to and from Lower Manhattan could connect at Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn with ten different subway lines including the 2, 3, 4 and 5 trains.
New Jersey Transit has already announced plans to reroute some of its trains through Hoboken.
MTA officials confirmed to Eyewitness News today that their contingency plans exist. They're just hoping they don't have to use them.
MTA Spokesman Tom Kelly said today, "There's been on request from the Secret Service or any other law enforcement agency to close Penn Station. We expect to operate with normal service during the convention week."
Beverly Dolinsky, LIRR Commuter's Council: "It's the Secret Service that is calling the shots. The Long Island Railroad and the MTA have to do whatever they say. That's the bottom line. Is there room on the subways for all of these people? No one is saying we can't do it, it's just going to be a nightmare."
More than anything, commuters are worried they simply won't have any warning.
Tonight a spokesperson for the U.S. Secret Service refused to comment on the story.
Oy, this is gonna be even more ridiculous:
(New York- WABC, July 14, 2004) — Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is making his final offer to an anti-war group planning a massive rally on the eve of the Republican Convention.
The group, United for Peace and Justice, wanted to use Central Park for a demonstration that could draw 250,000 people. Kelly says Central Park is out of the question.
Instead, he says demonstrators can march directly past Madison Square Garden and rally on the West Side Highway.
Closings here and here.