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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has prepared a commuter contingency plan for Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) riders in case a labor strike begins on July 20.Contract negotiations between the MTA/LIRR and the eight unions representing LIRR workers reached an impasse yesterday, so union leaders are proceeding with plans to launch a strike at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, according to New York City news media reports.MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast said the agency has increased its offer to unions in recent months, but a "long distance" remains between the two sides.In the meantime, the agency unveiled a contingency plan for commuters. In the event trains stop running, buses, ferries and park-and-ride lots will be mobilized to serve New Yorkers, MTA officials said in a press release. All forms of alternative transportation can serve more than three times more people than were assisted during the last LIRR labor dispute, which occurred in 1994, they said."Today, the MTA has a far stronger, more robust, multifaceted plan," Prendergast said. "Working with the state and elected officials from across Long Island and the city of New York, we are providing more shuttle buses, thousands of parking spots near subway stations, a ferry service, real-time traffic management and real-time parking monitoring."In addition, MTA has asked 1,400 employers in New York City and Long Island to encourage their employees to telecommute if necessary.
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