Today’s news:

LI-based CooCoo provides free text alerts for LIRR

Riders of the Long Island Rail Road can now get text messages providing a variety of train information from CooCoo, a new Long Island-based company which began in January providing schedules and service updates.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said commuters who text requests to 266266 (CooCoo) can now get train departure and arrival times, ticket prices and service updates instantaneously.

The service comes at no extra cost beyond telephone companies’ standard texting charges.

CooCoo officials estimated the agency will answer more than 1.8 million requests this year at the current rate of daily patronage.

More than 50,000 users had tried the service as of Monday with 77 percent using it again since the Huntington, L.I., agency had its debut with the LIRR this past January.

“We are excited about the innovative way CooCoo is getting LIRR travel information to the public and that it’s being done at no cost to the MTA,” said MTA Chairman Jay Walder.

“The addition of ticket prices to this service is another positive step in an experiment that is promising to help us revolutionize the way mass transit data is provided in New York,” Walder said.

President Helena Williams of the LIRR said “customer response to CooCoo has been very encouraging. Our customers like the option of getting train and now fare information on their cell phones. It’s very convenient and in the long run should help drive down our costs.”

“We applaud the MTA and the LIRR for being forward thinkers in offering this service to the riders,” said John Tunney, co-founder of the company.

The MTA said it hoped the new service would not only provide more convenience to riders, but reduce the number of customers using paper schedules which, in turn, would reduce waste and the LIRR’s printing costs.

LIRR riders can get free, real time E-Alerts by signing up at mta.info/lirr.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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