The New Year will usher in a new era for LIRR monthly tickets, which, for the first time, will not include any references to a customer’s gender.
Beginning with January passes, which some commuters have already received in the mail, LIRR weekly and monthly tickets will no longer feature boxes with an “M” and “F” to be punched by a conductor.
The railroad said the change comes as more customers migrate to using electronic tickets on their phones and there is less of a need to guard against commuters sharing their nontransferable tickets, including with their spouses.
“The simple gender notation on printed tickets was an anti-fraud measure that after a recent re-evaluation has been found to be no longer effective or needed,” LIRR spokesman Aaron Donovan said.
The change comes six months after New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, in a letter to the agency, raised concerns about the LIRR’s decades-old policy of including customers’ genders on tickets — calling it an “unnecessary, antiquated, and reductive” system that put constraints on some riders.
The railroad, beginning in September, directed conductors to stop punching the gender boxes, but they remained printed on the tickets. New ticket-card stock excludes the boxes altogether.
Occasional LIRR rider Cynthya Briankate, 41, who described herself as intersex and transgender, was pleased to hear that the LIRR was doing away with its “arcane” policy of identifying commuters as either male or female — a policy that she said left out people who identify otherwise or whose gender identity may not be obvious by their physical appearance.
Briankate said the policy could lead to awkward and humiliating interactions between LIRR commuters and conductors.
“It’s a scene for this poor person who just wants to ride the train,” said Briankate, of Ridge. “Why do we need any of this on the tickets? I mean, if you buy your ticket, you obviously had to have some way to pay for it.”
The move comes after the LIRR’s parent agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, last month directed subway conductors to no longer use the terms “ladies and gentlemen” when making announcements — opting instead for more neutral terms like “everyone” or “passengers.”