MTA customers, including Long Island Rail Road riders, will soon have some sense of how much more their commute will cost them next year, the agency's chief said Wednesday.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in the next two weeks will unveil details of its next proposed fare and toll increase -- the fifth since 2008, MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast said.
As it has in the past, the MTA will release details of plans "being discussed and . . . considered" to achieve the goal of raising fare revenue by 4 percent systemwide, Prendergast said. Public hearings on the proposals will be held in December, and the MTA board will vote on a final plan before the new rates go into effect in March.
"Ultimately, this has to follow a process where there's an interchange with the public," Prendergast said.
The latest increases are in keeping with a schedule set by the State Legislature in 2009 to raise fares and tolls every other year. That plan originally called for biannual hikes of 7.5 percent, but the MTA last year committed to limiting the increases to 4 percent, or roughly the cost of living. The MTA aims to collect about $286 million annually in additional revenue from the increases.
Although the MTA aims to boost fare and toll revenue by 4 percent, Ira Greenberg, the LIRR Commuter Council representative on the MTA board, noted that riders -- especially those on commuter railroads -- could see their tickets increase by considerably more.
The MTA's last rate hike in 2013 sought to raise fare and toll revenue by 7 percent, but LIRR monthly passes went up by as much as 15.3 percent, depending on the origin and destination.
Greenberg said he hopes the MTA will consider changes to fares that could result in savings for some riders and provide incentives to attract new customers. One example, he said, was increasing the age of a child covered under the discounted family fare to 15, from the current age of 11.
"You're getting people out of their cars," said Greenberg, who added that LIRR fares "are getting onerous, to say the least. . . . But, we do have to balance our budget."
The Suffolk representative on the MTA board, Mitchell Pally, said among the changes he will push for in a new fare plan will be discounted fares for customers traveling within Long Island.