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Rowdy Railroad Bans Booze—After Midnight

Riders and workers on the Long Island Rail Road doubt it will do much to curb drunken behavior by passengers.

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The ban won't affect Cinderella.
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By Valerie Tejeda

05/18/12

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Starting this weekend, the Long Island Rail Road will no longer allow passengers to bring alcoholic drinks on board—but only after midnight—following an increase in passenger misbehavior. Back in March, two LIRR conductors were assaulted in separate incidents, and there were six assaults on conductors in 2011—double the average. “The conductors have been aware of an increase in attacks,” says MTA spokesman Salvatore Arena. “We’re not talking about tremendous numbers here. But look, what we want is zero incidents.” One regular LIRR user tells The Fix that changes are long overdue: "Kids get so frickin' rowdy [on the train]," complains 28-year-old Abigail. "The worst is the night train when people are on their way back from the city." But she adds that earlier trains, particularly those which sports fans use to travel to Mets, Knicks or Rangers games, are also regularly afflicted by public drunkenness. And "riding the 8pm Saturday night train makes me want to shoot myself." Alcohol is prohibited entirely on commuter railroads in Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia. But Felix Kumira, the night manager of a food outlet at Penn Station, doubts that any ban will really work in New York: “What does it do if you cannot drink the beers on the train if you already have had the beers in the station or in Madison Square Garden? The people will be drunk anyway.” And Salvatore Arena admits, “The city cannot ban being drunk at midnight on the weekend.” For those who prefer early-morning intoxication, the new ban will only last until 5am.

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