Audrey Maher buys an off-peak ticket to Glen Cove at...

Audrey Maher buys an off-peak ticket to Glen Cove at the the self service ticket machine at the LIRR at Penn Station. (Oct. 15, 2012) Credit: Linda Rosier

The cost of a Long Island Rail Road ticket will go up by as much as 15 percent in March if the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approves a fare hike plan released Thursday.

But the proposal includes new incentives for LIRR customers, such as discounts for military personnel and expanding the Family Fare program.

Under the plan, train ticket prices will rise between 7.1 percent and 15.3 percent, depending on the ticket type and distance traveled. The increase on each individual LIRR ride would be limited to 75 cents.

The most expensive Long Island Rail Road ticket will be a monthly pass in Zone 14, which includes stations in eastern Suffolk County, that will go to $446 from $429. Hicksville commuters will pay $22 more for a monthly ticket, and Great Neck commuters will pay $19 more.

The MTA board will vote on the proposal Wednesday and is expected to approve the increases.

The goal of the fare hike plan, which also includes increases on subways, buses and MTA bridge and tunnel tolls, is designed to raise $450 million in new revenue each year. Most of the money is to go toward rising employee pension and benefit expenses.

In a letter to board members, released Thursday, authority chairman Joseph Lhota called the changes "an essential part of the MTA's Financial Plan."

Active-duty military personnel will be charged off-peak fares at all times. Family Fare tickets, which currently can be used only during off-peak hours, will be valid during evening peak hours. The cost of a Family Fare ticket, which offers discounted tickets for children, will increase by 25 cents to $1. The CityTicket, which offers $3.75 train rides within New York City, will also increase, by 25 cents.

Mark Epstein, chairman of the LIRR Commuter Council, said that while his group understands the MTA's financial concerns, "it is not of the riders' making."

"We are disappointed that once again it is riders who will bear its burden," Epstein said. "We are now at the breaking point where it is not that a rider simply prefers not to pay more but truly cannot afford to pay more."

On city subways and buses, the base fare will climb to $2.50 from $2.25, although customers purchasing a single-ride MetroCard will be charged $2.75.

The cost of a 30-day unlimited ride MetroCard will climb 7.7 percent to $112 from the current $104. A seven-day MetroCard will go up to $30 from $29.

The MTA is reducing the discount for a multi-ride MetroCard to 5 percent from 7 percent, but offering discounts for purchases as small as $5. Currently, riders must purchase a MetroCard priced at $10 or more to get the discount. On its bridges and tunnels, the MTA will continue charging considerably more to drivers paying with cash rather than using E-ZPass.

At major crossings, including the Queens Midtown Tunnel and Throgs Neck Bridge, tolls will go to $5.33 from $4.80 for E-ZPass users. For cash customers, they will jump a dollar, to $7.50 from $6.50.

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