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Avoid Penn Station during RNC, LIRR tells riders

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Suggestions for riders include changing to subways to avoid Penn Station, located beneath the convention site of Madison Square Garden, and buying commuter tickets at outlying stations before Aug. 30The LIRR said it would operate regular services at Penn Station during the convention, but security and safety considerations prompted by the event would have some impact on riders using the station."The LIRR will be doing everything possible to continue normal operations and minimize inconvenience during the convention," said James Dermody, president of the railroad. "MTA police and additional LIRR staff will be available in Penn Station to assist and direct our customers and answer their questions."Only two of the six entrances at Penn Station will be available for customers - the Amtrak entrance at 32nd Street and Seventh Avenue and the LIRR 34th Street entrance just west of Seventh Avenue but within Penn Station normal subway access will be unrestricted.West 32nd Street between Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue will be closed to vehicles and become a pedestrian mall for access to and from the Seventh Avenue entrance to Penn Station. The taxi stand on Seventh Avenue in front of Penn Station will be moved to 32nd Street between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas.Regular New York City Transit bus routes will be altered.The LIRR suggested passengers transfer to subway connections including Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, Woodside, Hunterspoint Avenue, Long Island City or Jamaica, all in Queens.The Flatbush Avenue terminal offers access to Lower Manhattan with connections to the 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, M, N R and Q lines.Commuters may use Hunterspoint Avenue and Long Island City stations to get to Manhattan's East Side using the No. 7 line, the railroad said, and also can connect at its Jamaica hub to the E train serving Midtown and downtown Manhattan and J and Z trains serving Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. The F train station is on Sutphin Avenue and Hillside Avenue, about a five-block walk north of the Jamaica station.Further recommendations include:Consider leaving unnecessary bags, backpacks and other items at home.Take all belongings when leaving trains to avoid delays caused by searches of unattended packages.Buy LIRR tickets and MetroCards in advance and at outlying stations.Purchase September commuter tickets before Aug. 30, possibly on line at www.mta.info.Listen for announcements about potential service changes since the LIRR plan is subject to change.Listen to radio and television traffic reports for service updates.The LIRR said additional railroad personnel will be assigned at key locations to help customers.Patrons may call 718 217-LIRR for information 24 hours a day. Other useful numbers: New York City Transit 718 330-1234, MTA police 1-888-682-9117 and the New York City Police 1 888-NYC SAFE.Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

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