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LIRR Fares in New York City Should Be the Cost of an MTA Swipe, Comptroller Says

Flushing Main Street (Photo: Sebastian Sinisterra)

Oct. 17, 2018 By Laura Hanrahan

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer is calling on the MTA to drop Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North fare prices to the cost of a Metrocard swipe for all trips within the five boroughs.

Stringer said that the average price of a Metro-North or LIRR fare within the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens is nearly four times higher than the $2.75 cost of a subway ride—a big deterrent for many commuters. Many residents who live near LIRR or Metro-North stations elect to take crowded subways or lengthy trips to avoid the cost, he added.

“While commuter rail tracks carve through the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, working New Yorkers are stuck behind an unacceptable paywall, forced to pay an exorbitant amount or spend extra hours stuck on overcrowded subways and buses,” Stringer said.

Stringer released a three-point plan Tuesday to improve commuter service for those who live in New York City neighborhoods served by either Metro-North or Long Island Rail Road stations. The plan includes lowering fares; allowing free transfers between rail, subways and buses; adding more stops; improving bus service to commuter rail stations; and making all LIRR and Metro North stations ADA accessible.

Stringer said the price deferential between a LIRR and Metro-North fare and a Metrocard swipe is out of whack. For instance, a one-way rush-hour ticket from Manhattan to Queens is $10.25. Meanwhile, for many, it is half the travel time compared to the subway or bus.

“New Yorkers shouldn’t be held hostage by the MTA to get home to their families, and they shouldn’t have to spend extra hours crammed on the subway and bus to make ends meet,” said Stringer.

The Comptroller also said LIRR service within Queens is insufficient. For example, 31 trains go through Forest Hills Station between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., yet only two offer local service, he said. At the Flushing Main Street station, only two of the six trains that pass through in that time frame pick up passengers.

Stringer is also asking that MTA add more local stops in neighborhoods like St. Albans, Queens Village, Laurelhurst, Murray Hill, Spuyten Duyvil, Tremont, and Williamsbridge.

The Comptroller also wants the stations to be more integrated with the city’s public transit system.

Stringer’s report and recommendations received overwhelming support from community representatives in Queens.

“The district that I represent in Eastern Queens has no subway stations and some of the slowest buses in the City,” said Council Member Barry Grodenchick. “The LIRR is often the most reasonable choice for commuters in our neighborhoods and it should be affordable.”

“I agree with New York City Comptroller Stringer’s proposal to lower the fare for in-city riders to that of a subway ride.”

Meanwhile, in a statement, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota called the comptroller’s proposal “irresponsible” because it fails to say how the MTA would pay for the lower fares.

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