Your strategic plan isn’t important

first_img 10SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Get your attention? Good – I hope so.Now that you have had a moment to catch your breath, let me explain.British statesman Sir Winston Churchill said: “Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.”You’d be hard-pressed to find truer words in the strategic planning process arena.Your strategic plan, once hammered out and put on paper, is really nothing more than a tool for direction, a compass for your bank or credit union to follow in shifting winds. Too often, bank and credit union executives come out of the strategic planning process completely fixated upon that which is on paper. Guess what? Times change. The markets change. The ripple effect of an interconnected global economy means a drop in the bucket in Beijing can be a tidal wave once it reaches Bakersfield. continue reading »last_img read more

The CUInsight Experience podcast: George Ombado – Rising up (#48)

first_imgWelcome to episode 48 The CUInsight Experience with your host Randy Smith, co-founder of CUInsight.com. In this episode, Randy welcomes George Ombado, CEO of ACCOSCA, a Pan-African confederation of national associations of savings and credit cooperatives societies. This episode was recorded at the 20th Annual SACCA Congress in Mombasa, Kenya.ACCOSCA has developed programs aimed at improving socio-economic needs of Africa through saving and credit unions, partnering with various government bodies, development agencies and research institutions to contribute towards mitigating challenges facing Africa in the twenty-first century.Listen to this conversation about credit union growth in Africa, and the differences to the more mature U.S. credit union system. George talks about how he’s fashioned the Africa Development Education program after attending DE in North Carolina and shares a great story about Bill and Crissy Cheney helping him get home after his flight was canceled due to snow.George is inspired to see that young people and women are being accepted by the leadership today because these things wouldn’t have been possible ten years ago. He is working to build the regulatory framework in Africa because it builds confidence to have it, whereas, in the U.S, we are trying to get rid of some of it. George has excellent insight into the global credit union movement of today, and you won’t want to miss what he has to say. Enjoy!Subscribe on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher How to find George:George Ombado, CEO of the Africa Confederation of Co-operative Savings & Credit Associations (ACCOSCA)www.ACCOSCA.orggeorge.ombado@accosca.orgLinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook Show notes from this episode:Check out all the amazing George and his team at ACCOSCA are doing on the continent.You can find our more about the SACCA Congress here. I can’t wait to attend next year.This is an article I wrote about my experience at 20th SACCA Congress and the Don Bosco Special School project mentioned: Asante Africa: My heart is full from your cooperative spiritShout-out: David MategwaShout-out: Julie FergusonIt took only minutes for George and I to start talking DE. Are you a CUDE? Just do it. Sign up.Shout-out: to our friends at the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC)Shout-out: Lois Kitsch and CU Difference. Lois is responsible for my first experience in Kenya and meeting George. Life changing.Shout-out: to Bill and Crissy Cheney for getting George and his crew to DC for at flight home after DE.Keep a lookout for more information on the ACCOSCA Foundation.Shout-out: Mr. Bert J. Hash, Jr.Shout-out: Brian BranchShout-out: Maureen, Betty Rose and the rest of George’s team at ACCOSCA.Album mentioned: Bob Marley’s Greatest Hits by Bob MarleyBook mentioned: Allah is Not Obliged by Ahmadou KouroumaPrevious guests mentioned in this episode: Lois Kitsch, Bill Cheney, Julie Ferguson, Jill Nowacki (episodes 4, 18 & 37)You can find all past episodes of The CUInsight Experience here. In This Episode:[01:58] – George, Welcome to the show![02:38] – George discusses what ACCOSCA is and what they are involved in.[04:41] – They talk about Africa’s DE programs and why they are so invaluable.[06:23] – George went to a DE program in North Carolina and had Crissy Cheney in his class. He used what he learned to set up the program in Africa.[08:22] – They speak about the global board that George has set up.[10:40] – Why does Africa see such growth in credit unions while the U.S considers a decrease?[14:14] – George took the job at ACCOSCA to bring the level of engagement up and to have the ability to help his country.[16:10] – Has your inspiration for taking the job changed over the years?[17:50] – George says his leadership style is hands-on; he likes to empower people and see people get the right opportunities.[18:46] – He feels that his team would say that he pushes to get things done.[19:18] – George talks about planning all the time.[19:53] – The 2020 SACCA Congress will be held in the Kingdom of Eswatini in South Africa.[20:21] – What mistakes do you see young leaders make today?[21:30] – When George gets frustrated, he puts his head down and gets it done.[22:25] – He keeps his message fresh by communication, but he thinks there is improvement needed.[23:15] – He likes to rugby games and travel when he has a little time off, which is rare.[24:20] – George got into trouble when he was about 7 or 8; his mom got mad at him for having someone else pen.[25:13] – Everyday he plans for the next day, he maps it out.[25:46] – Favorite Album?[26:13] – Favorite Book?[26:48] – George says that money has become less important, connecting with people is more important.[27:44] – When he hears the word success, his parents come to mind every time.[29:03] – George says that the new SACCO Insight with Randy will help get the credit union movement out to other nations. 84SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Randall Smith Randall Smith is the co-founder of CUInsight.com, the host of The CUInsight Experience podcast, and a bit of a wanderlust.As one of the co-founders of CUInsight.com he … Web: www.CUInsight.com Detailslast_img read more

How simple is your vision? Great! Now make it simpler!

first_img 14SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Bill Stainton Bill Stainton works with extraordinary leaders who want to produce breakthrough results with their teams. A 29-time Emmy® Award-winning producer, writer, and performer, Bill speaks frequently to Credit Unions and … Web: www.billstainton.com Details The credit union leader is frustrated. “I don’t know why I’m having such trouble getting the team to buy-in to the credit union vision! It couldn’t be simpler!”Then she shows me the credit union vision. It’s five paragraphs long. It contains sentences like, “To enhance the long-term value of the investment dollars entrusted to us by our members,” and “To consistently strive to improve efficiency and productivity through learning, sharing, and implementing best practices.” It reeks of having been written by a committee—a committee that probably included at least three lawyers.She wonders why she’s not getting buy-in to the vision? It’s because, contrary to her assertion, it could be simpler. It should be simpler. In fact, it must be simpler. Much, much, much simpler.I’m going to take you into the deep, dark past. I’m going to take you to the 1960s, and then to the 1980s.In the 60s, there was a musical group known as the Beatles. You can look them up—they’re on Wikipedia. When they were first starting out, one of the things that drove them was a shared vision, and it was this:They were going to be bigger than Elvis. (As in Elvis Presley. He’s also on Wikipedia.)Bigger than Elvis! That’s not five paragraphs—it’s three words. It wasn’t written by lawyers. In fact, it wasn’t written at all. It didn’t have to be. The four Beatles didn’t have to read their vision—they lived it. It fired up their emotions, it excited them, it drove them. There was no “buy-in” problem with the Beatles.In the 80s there was a software company known as Microsoft. When they were first starting out, one of the things that drove them was a shared vision, and it was this:A computer on every desk.Not five paragraphs; five words. And everyone at Microsoft knew it. Not because it was written on a document hanging in the break room. Because they lived it. It fired up their emotions, it excited them, it drove them. There was no “buy-in” problem with Microsoft.If you’re having trouble getting your team to “buy in” to your vision, I’d like to suggest that you haven’t made it simple enough. You’re mired in the forest, in the “how to.” Take a step back. A big step back. What’s the big picture? The one that gets you excited? The one that’ll get them excited?And here’s a tip: If it doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker, it’s too long.How simple is your vision? Great! Now make it simpler!last_img read more

Why most digital banking transformation efforts have stalled

first_imgDigital transformation is growing more pervasive in every banking organization, moving beyond “projects” to organization-wide initiatives involving technology, product development, business models and culture. Budgets are increasing as organizations are finally updating legacy systems and ownership of the process is moving up the organization structure.While the potential benefits of digital technologies are well documented and accepted by a majority of bank and credit union leaders, the deployment of digital banking transformation does not appear to be keeping pace, according to the Digital Banking Report, “State of Digital Banking Transformation.” This is concerning, given that the pervasiveness of required digital transformation is moving beyond the IT area of banking to include virtually all areas of the organization.Highlights of this report, sponsored by Pega:Digital banking maturity is very low in retail banking, with only 12% of firms indicating that they are “leaders.”There is a very strong correlation between innovation leadership and digital transformation leadership in retail banking. ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »last_img read more

Consumers’ surprising views on the future of banking

first_imgThe usual view of the future of banking comes from industry observers and key players within the industry, who represent important viewpoints, to be sure. Yet consumers deal with banking issues frequently, if not daily. Banking is an essential and integral part of their lives.What do consumers think about the future of the industry?Rapidly changing consumer habits are one of the main forces behind the sweeping upheaval of the status quo in banking. MX, the digital transformation platform, conducted two consumer surveys in late 2019, each one generating just over 1,000 responses. These were distilled into two reports: The Ultimate Guide to Digital Transformation and The Ultimate Guide to the Future of Banking. The latter in particular offers much data on how consumers see banking changing, along with how they currently conduct their banking activities. The firm also offers some practical advice for digital transformation, summarized later in this article.As MX states, “two deep currents” are driving changes within the banking industry: More choice and less friction. Both are inseparably intertwined. Any consumer with access to the internet can search for “home loan rates” or “high-interest savings.” They can have hundreds of options available instantly — not only to peruse passively, but to actively engage with, in many cases, from their digital device. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Senate bill would remove outdated CU board duties

first_img continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) introduced a credit union governance modernization bill Tuesday, the result of direct engagement between the legislators, CUNA and the Carolinas Credit Union League. This is the second similar bill released this week, as CUNA and the Leagues seek modernizations of the Federal Credit Union Act that would allow credit unions to better serve members, families and communities.“By helping to bring credit union governance into the 21st century, Sens. Burr and Tillis are strengthening consumers’ access to Main Street financial partners that are dedicated to empowering their financial well-being,” said CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle.Specifically, the Credit Union Fairness Act (S. 3326) would remove outdated duties for credit union boards and remove the requirement for credit unions to provide NCUA with the names of its loan officers from the Federal Credit Union Act.last_img read more

Notification needed for FCC call blocking

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), CUNA and other organizations expressed concerns that legitimate calls are continuing to be blocked by voice service providers (VSP) under the STIR/SHAKEN caller identification framework meant to target illegal robocalls.“However, for this redress mechanism to meaningfully protect consumers and be effective as Congress intended, the caller must know that its calls are being blocked,” the letter reads. “Consequently, we urge the Commission to require the blocking entity to notify callers immediately that it is blocking their calls. Without a notification requirement, no call-blocking service can be performed with ‘transparency . . . for . . . callers,’ as the TRACED Act requires.”The letter included recommendations to protect consumers against illegal calls, such as:VSPs should remove an erroneous block within 24 hours of the provider’s learning of the block; continue reading »last_img read more

How to increase non-interest income for your financial institution

first_imgThis is placeholder text continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Increasing non-interest income while staying true to your financial institution’s mission can be tricky. Income is obviously necessary to run a successful business, but lenders sometimes feel that seeking out income and fees feels too pushy and runs contrary to their service missions. Some lenders also fear that adding or increasing fees and other charges may drive borrowers to competitors.These are legitimate concerns, but think about it—without income, your institution would cease to exist and you would be unable to provide borrowers with any services at all! Like any other business, it’s fair for financial institutions to charge for services that offer convenience and time savings.Generating non-interest income for your financial institution ultimately benefits borrowers by defraying costs, decreasing loan rates, and increasing savings rates. One way to do so is by introducing new products that complement your current offerings and bring value to your new and existing consumer base. In this blog post, we’ll discuss several strategies for increasing non-interest income for your financial institution.Fees for Premium ServicesBusinesses often allow customers to use a limited version of a service for free, then upcharge for a premium service; your financial institution can follow suit. For example, perhaps you could offer multiple service levels of identity theft protection, with a slight increase in price for each level. Consumers decide which level they find most valuable and are charged accordingly.center_img This post is currently collecting data…last_img read more

Nassau Art Museum Unlocks the Vaults to Showcase Its Treasures

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York [dropcap]T[/dropcap]o say it’s never been seen before is an over statement, but to describe the inspired new exhibition at the Nassau County Museum of Art as unprecedented in its 25-year history might be right on the mark. Certainly, the works in the museum’s collections have never been shown like this before—and that makes it a noteworthy aesthetic accomplishment.In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the museum’s staff have delved deep to put this impressive display together, calling the fruits of their labors,  “Out of the Vault: 25 Years of Collecting.” The show had its official unveiling March 20th, during what is hoped will be the last spring snow storm in 2015, but it will last well into summer, ending on July 12.The exhibit draws upon the museum’s permanent collection, highlighting the patrons’ gifts to the museum over the last quarter century, many of which have never, or rarely, been put on public display before.“We tried to pull out both new things as well as some things that have been in the collection for a while but haven’t been shown in a long time,” explained Karl Willers, the museum’s director. The museum owns about 550 works, he added, and he expects to have between 250 and 275 of them on display for this new show.“It’s actually been a lot of fun putting it together,” said Fernanda Bennett, the museum’s deputy director.  “We’ve kind of pulled everything up, got to look at it all, and then edited it out, in terms of what related, what had a nice rapport, and what felt good.”There’s portraiture—past and present—plus an array of American landscapes, paintings and objects by Louis Comfort Tiffany, vintage Americana posters, works by Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Helen Frankenthaler, Larry Rivers, James Rosenquist and Robert Indiana. There’s also a provocative portfolio by the photographer Larry Fink, whose black and white work contrasts socialites in Manhattan with hard-scrabble families of rural Pennsylvania’s coal country.Roy Lichtenstein’s 1964 pop print, “Foot and Hand,” has a prominent place in the first gallery.The great American naturalist John James Audubon, known for his bird paintings, is represented here by the hoary marmot, the jerboa mouse, and the marsh shrew, among other notable rodents. It’s a nice, educational tie-in for children, considering that the museum’s surrounding property is officially the William Cullen Bryant Preserve, although these figures in the “quadrupeds” gallery, as it’s called during the “Out of the Vault” show, haven’t been spotted on the grounds themselves.The overwhelming amount of art work encompassed by the exhibit may be vast but the multifaceted presentation feels right, not unlike the masterful arrangement of different genres of art assembled by the keen aesthetic of the Barnes Foundation’s museum in Philadelphia, whose brilliant collector, Albert C. Barnes, wanted to educate the average viewer’s eye “to see as the artist sees,” as he put it in 1925.No less ambitious, this exhibit at the Nassau County Museum of Art promises to delight visitors whose tastes and styles vary widely. They will come away with their vision renewed, guaranteed.Take the Tiffany room, right next to the pop art in gallery one on the first floor. “We have one of the largest collections of paintings by Louis Comfort Tiffany,” said Willers, as he gave this reporter from the Press a preview tour as the staff scrambled to hang the show before the next day’s opening.From all around, there was the sound of hammers, staple guns, tape measures and excited chatter. At one point, Willers took special care to move a priceless purple vase into its proper place in its exhibit case. On the walls some of the paintings supposedly had the original Tiffany gold frames; certainly their finely etched designs imparted an exquisite touch to the canvasses they contained.The second floor of the museum offered some surprises. In a prominent spot in the American portraiture room was George DeForest Brush’s stark painting, “The Matinecock Indian Chief,” who was looking very formal in profile as he gripped his calumet, a long ornamented tobacco pipe used in ceremonies. Originally completed in 1928, this portrait had hung at the Bank of America branch in Locust Valley for many years until it closed. According to the museum’s publicist, Doris Meadows, the community convinced the bank to donate the piece so it could remain in Nassau.Nearby was a compelling wall-hanging by Joseph Hirsch called “The Wedding,” which showed a very grotesque old man dancing with his very young bride, as a jaded group of jazz musicians serenaded the newly-weds. The large painting exuded an air of social criticism in a style from the 1930s like that of George Grosz. Hirsch, it turns out, had gained national attention as a muralist for the Federal Works Progress Administration during the Depression. Later, Hirsch’s 1949 illustration for Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” showing Willy Loman stooped and defeated as he carried his suitcase loaded with products nobody was buying, became a world-famous poster for the play. This uncompromising work had no commercial potential.On the other side of the gallery was Frederick Warren Freer’s compelling portrait of his new bride, “Lady in Black.” With her fashionably stylish black gloves, she holds a fan artfully spread to hide her décolletage. Painted in 1889, the portrait shows the influence of Freer’s studies in Europe, where he learned how to imitate the Dutch old masters’ use of browns, grays and blacks. Apparently, the painting was exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893, where it won a medal. As the 19th century came to an end, Freer was one of America’s best known painters. He’s practically forgotten today.In another gallery down the hall are photos of artists who are still quite well known. Taken by Berenice Abbott in 1948 is a gelatin silver print of Edward Hopper posing in front of a fireplace in his studio, looking like a banker in his conservative three-piece suit. Facing that work was a color photograph taken in the Hamptons by Linda McCartney of her husband, Paul, wearing a floppy hat but no socks, seated next to Willem de Kooning, stylish in his white painter’s pants, with one of de Kooning’s abstract expressionist works displayed behind them. The shot once adorned the cover of Art News in 1982 when the magazine ran a feature story on de Kooning’s celebrated career.In a gallery around the corner is special selection of contemporary Long Island artists in the museum’s collection, called “Vernacular Visions.” It features paintings by Burt Young and Francisco Villagran of Port Washington and Susan Cushing of Southampton, and sculptures by Old Westbury’s Richard Gachot, who uses found objects the way artists use tubes of paint to make his whimsical creations.Richard Gachot’s spider sculpture is in the Vernacular Visions gallery.A room devoted to “traditions in American landscape” was dominated by a very new acquisition, a stunning large color print called “Tree of Life,” taken in Oregon in 2010 by award-winning Australian photographer Peter Lik. On a glowing grassy knoll beside a pond stands a psychedelicized Japanese maple tree, its gnarled branches looking like the limbs of an old soothsayer silhouetted against a canopy of iridescent red leaves letting in sparkles of sunlight. Lik’s work has been featured at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and he starred in an NBC-produced TV series, “From the Edge with Peter Lik.”For those who care about such things, “Phantom,” his black and white photo of a ghostlike image at Arizona’s Antelope Canyon, was acquired last year for $6.5 million, making it reportedly the most expensive photograph in history. To this reporter, “Tree of Life” is more vivid—and really worth gazing at for a very long time. Another hidden treasure brought to light because the Nassau County Museum of Art opened its vaults.“We think audiences are going to like it,” said Willers with a justified mix of pride and delight, like a showman about to open the curtain to an eager audience ready to be dazzled.“There’s a lot to see and it gives us a chance to show off for the first time some of the highlights of our collection,” he said. “I think it’s really one of the best looking shows that we’ve ever mounted.”Nassau County Museum of Art is located at One Museum Drive in Roslyn Harbor, just off Northern Boulevard, Route 25A, two traffic lights west of Glen Cove Road. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (62 and above) and $4 for students with ID and children aged 4 to 12.last_img read more

Everybody’s On Board as Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council Opens First Office on LI–While Capital Funding Is Delayed

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York As calls for funding billions of dollars in capital projects for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority go unheeded in Albany, the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council will have their own office on Long Island for the first time since its formation. It won’t cost the LIRR a dime, which is fortunate because the railroad doesn’t have any extra money right now to spend.In honor of the mostly symbolic occasion, the council held a ceremony on June 5 with a dozen or more local elected officials on hand to celebrate the railroad’s past, with memorabilia provided by Steven Quigley of the National Railway Historical Society’s Long Island Sunrise Trail Chapter, and to promote a better future for LIRR commuters.“The Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council’s new office will provide a great resource for commuters,” said Nassau County Executive Mangano, who reportedly donated the 300-square-foot space on the third floor of the Ralph G. Caso Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola. “My administration looks forward to working with the Commuter Council to help enhance the rider experience for residents utilizing the Long Island Rail Road.”The office, reportedly once used to store Nassau County real estate records, doesn’t come with a staff, according to Mark Epstein, the commuter council’s chairman. He reportedly said the group plans to hold meetings there but no schedule has yet been announced.Founded in 1981 by the New York State Legislature as a citizens’ watchdog group, the commuter council has 11 volunteers who regularly ride the LIRR and are willing to dedicate their time to improving service and safety, and ensuring that the stations and trains are kept clean. Though their powers are only advisory, they have been able to bring problems to light and make a difference in the daily commute. Last year, the LIRR’s ridership totaled 85.8 million passengers—a 3 percent increase from 2013—and represented the third highest ridership since 1949, according to the MTA.“I think we’ve had a number of accomplishments,” says Bill Henderson, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee, an advocacy group for mass transit riders that is based in Manhattan. “We improved the conditions of the stations and the hours of the stations. We’ve also gotten repairs done. One of our biggest areas has been getting more information from the railroad such as options during service diversions.”Another improvement that Henderson’s group is taking credit for is letting riders know more accurately how long train delays will last and where on the lines they are taking place.“Communication is a huge issue,” said Henderson, adding that “knowing what is going on with the railroad can also impact the commute.”Along with communication, commuters are also worried about actual on-time performance and safety, especially after the recent derailments in the last year, most recently on May 12 when an Amtrak train derailed outside Philadelphia, killing eight people and leaving 200 injured.The opening of the new office not only gives the LIRRCC a presence on the Island, but also gives the council better opportunities to establish connections with political leaders and commuters, Henderson said.“The opening of LIRRCC’s first Long Island office will help facilitate improved communication between Council members and the riding public, allowing the commuters’ concerns to be easily heard,” said Sen. Carl L. Marcellino (R-Syosset). “This will help increase their efforts in fostering a stronger and more responsive transportation system. The LIRRCC should be commended for working to improve the quality of the service on the Long Island Rail Road.”Throughout the year, the LIRRCC hosts “Meet the Commuter” days at different times and stations. During this event, the LIRRCC talks to riders about current issues affecting the LIRR and gets feedback on how stations could improve.As many Long Island commuters know, many problems need to be addressed. To address public concerns over derailment issues, the LIRR says it is working on new rail cars with improved safety systems. The LIRRCC became very interested in commuter safety after learning that during the Amtrak crash in May passengers were not able to escape from the cars.The LIRR, originally formed in 1834 to transport agricultural products, still operates essentially on the same railway infrastructure. Henderson believes the Quigley exhibit was necessary for the new LIRRCC office opening.“It’s important to understand some of the history of the railroad,” he said. “Some of the issues [facing the LIRR] today are because of how the railroad came together.”In addition to helping to improve service, the LIRRCC also monitors travel patterns and makes recommendations. Not as many people are commuting from suburban areas to Manhattan than in the past. Non-commuter ridership has declined by 66 percent, while commuter ridership has declined by 7 percent, according to studies.The MTA Capital Program 2015-2019, a five-year plan pegged at $32 billion, may have started in January but it still awaits final approval by the State Legislature. Improvements are definitely needed, according to the MTA, which noted that mechanical failures have increased delays by 35 percent, and decreased economic activity by 12.8 percent.According to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a nonprofit mass transit advocacy group based in Manhattan, more than 60 percent of the new 2015 capital program will be devoted to maintaining the LIRR infrastructure as well as making the rail cars safer. The capital program will also focus on improving station platforms at Babylon, Nostrand Avenue and Hunterspoint Avenue, which could cost $380 million, completing a double track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma to eliminate delays when trains break down, and building a new station in Elmhurst.The East Side Access is the first expansion of the LIRR in more than a century. Once finished, it will allow the LIRR to connect to Grand Central Terminal and reduce the travel time by 30 to 40 minutes each way for an estimated 160,000 riders daily. The ambitious project was originally planned to be completed by 2009 and cost $4.3 billion, according to the state comptroller’s office, but its completion date has been extended four times in 10 years while the price tag has kept going up. Now, the East Side Access is expected to be done by 2023 and run $10.8 billion.With Spencer Rumseylast_img read more