LIRR between Penn Station and Hillside eastbound on the Ronkonkoma...

LIRR between Penn Station and Hillside eastbound on the Ronkonkoma line, Thursday, March 8, 2008. Credit: NEWSDAY / Bill Davis

Long Island Rail Road commuters would pay $7 to $19 more for their monthly ticket under the MTA's latest fare and toll hike plan, according to new agency figures.

Under the new fares that would take effect in March, all monthly and weekly tickets would go up by no more than 4.25 percent, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Great Neck commuters would see their monthly pass rise by $10, to $252 from $242. Hicksville commuters would pay $287 monthly -- $11 more than they do now. And Ronkonkoma commuters would pay $377 a month, an increase of $14.

MTA officials said 80 percent of all trips, including those made with daily tickets, would increase by less than 4.25 percent. The LIRR's special CityTicket, which provides discounted fares for weekend trips within New York City, would also increase 25 cents, to $4.25.

Other proposed MTA rate hikes would see the cost of a 30-day unlimited MetroCard climb $4.50 to $116.50 and most MTA crossing tolls, including on the Throgs Neck Bridge and Queens-Midtown Tunnel, climb to $5.54 from $5.33 for E-ZPass users.

The MTA will hold public hearings, including one in Melville on Dec. 3, before voting on the fares.

For 35-year LIRR commuter Stuart Levy, 58, the $13 more he would pay for his monthly ticket from Huntington to Penn Station is not worth it, he said, considering what he says has been a steady degradation in service.

"Give me something for my money, instead of crowded trains and listening to people on their cellphones," Levy said Tuesday. "This is what we have to go through. And we're going to pay more for that?"

In a statement Monday, MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast said the increases are "necessary to balance our budget against the increased costs of providing" services, and noted the MTA has done its part by cutting more than $1 billion in internal costs in recent years.

"The MTA is keeping its promise to ensure fare and toll increases are as low as possible, and these options are designed to minimize their impact on our customers," Prendergast said.

MTA board member Mitchell Pally of Stony Brook said that while he would like to see the fare increase coincide with enhancements in LIRR service, he applauded the agency for spreading the pain evenly. In past years, the percentage of fare increases has been more than twice as high for some LIRR riders than others, depending on the distance of their trip.

"If I want to raise fares 4 percent, I could raise some people 0 and some people 8, and I'd get an average of 4. But that's not fair," Pally said. "I think in the past they just looked at it as how much money they needed to raise . . . They didn't look at it in the context of how to treat everyone equally."

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