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Meet Hector Garcia!

Hector Garcia
Government Relations Specialist
MTA Long Island Rail Road
Jamaica, NY
Member, Leadership APTA Class of 2013, Diversity Council, Legislative Committee, Early Career Program Mentor 2014, 2015

Please describe the LIRR’s scope.
In 2013, the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) carried an average of 287,000 ­customers each weekday on 741 daily trains. The LIRR system is comprised of more than 670 miles of track on 11 different branches with 124 stations stretching from ­Montauk—on the eastern tip of Long Island—to Penn Station in the heart of Manhattan, approximately 120 miles away.

The LIRR owns and operates all of its rolling stock and infrastructure, with the exception of the East River Tunnels and Penn Station, which are owned by Amtrak. Penn Station is the busiest train terminal in North America and is served by three railroads: LIRR, Amtrak, and New Jersey Transit.

With 6,727 employees, the LIRR operates around the clock, 365 days a year. Schedule revenue service includes two peak periods, one on weekday mornings from 6-10 a.m. and the other on weekday evenings from 4-8 p.m.

How long have you worked in the public transportation industry?
I’ve been in the industry for 23 years

What drew you to a career in public transportation?
When I started working for the LIRR in August 1991 as a station appearance maintainer, I did not think the LIRR would become my career. I had been recently released from active duty in the Marine Reserves. My plan was to attend school full time in the day and work at the LIRR full time at night until I completed my studies.

During my LIRR career, I continued to discover new challenges and progressive levels of responsibility and opportunity. I have earned a degree from Columbia University and have been able to take on positions with increasing responsibility. I have worked in the railroad’s marketing and promotions department. My current position in public affairs allows me to regularly interact with the president’s office and help manage some of the most sensitive community and political issues facing the LIRR.

How long have you been an APTA member?
I’ve been active since August 2012 when I was selected as a member of the Leadership APTA Class of 2013.

Please describe your involvement with APTA.
During this past year, I was appointed to serve as Leadership APTA’s representative on the Diversity Council. I am also an active member of the Human Resources, ­Legislative, and Policy and Planning committees and am a national mentor in APTA’s new Early Career Program.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource? Please explain why or how this has helped.
The Leadership APTA and the Early Career Programs are excellent programs that provide participants a wider view of our business while providing extensive networking opportunities to advance their careers.

The most valuable APTA benefit is the ability to work closely with leaders from other public transit organizations. I am especially impressed by how engaged and accessible APTA’s leadership, executive committee, and board members are at conferences.

What do you like most about your job?
I can truly say that every day brings interesting and exciting challenges for me and the company where I’ve been employed for 23 years. As an LIRR government relations specialist, I deal daily with key issues facing the busiest and the oldest commuter railroad in North America.

Among my responsibilities is to advocate for the LIRR while working with our important constituency of elected and community representatives. I have to anticipate possible community issues that may arise in our large and diverse service area. I also regularly advise LIRR’s senior management on key issues, including local input on LIRR capital improvement projects.

What is unique about your agency? What would readers be surprised to learn?
The Long Island Rail Road is both the largest U.S. commuter railroad and the ­oldest railroad in the country operating under its original name. Chartered in 1834, it extends from three major New York City terminals—Penn Station, Atlantic Terminal, and Hunterspoint Avenue—through a major transfer hub at Jamaica to the easternmost tip of Long Island.

The LIRR pioneered many railroad industry firsts, such as all-steel passenger cars, electric train service, and train whistles.
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