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After delay, MTA Board to vote Wednesday on nearly 4 percent rate increase

Long Island Rail Road passengers purchase tickets at

Long Island Rail Road passengers purchase tickets at Penn Station. Commuters face a possible 4 percent rate hike. Credit: Charles Eckert

The MTA Board will vote Wednesday on the same plan to raise fares for Long Island Rail Road riders that the agency proposed last year, despite taking an extra month to consider other options, an MTA official said.

In January, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board postponed a vote on a plan to raise fares and tolls across its agencies by about 4 percent, saying it would use the time to mull alternatives. Among the ideas floated by board members were tying fares to transit agencies’ performance and weighing a fare increase more heavily on single-ride commuter rail customers rather than monthly ticket-holders.

But MTA Board member Mitchell Pally, of Stony Brook, said the plan — to be voted on Wednesday at the agency's monthly meeting at 9 a.m. in MTA headquarters in Manhattan — is largely identical to the one previously proposed, and altogether “unchanged” as it pertains to LIRR riders. He declined to comment further on the proposal until the meeting.

An MTA spokesman confirmed that a vote on a fare and toll change was scheduled for Wednesday.

Under the plan proposed late last year, the maximum increase on weekly and monthly LIRR tickets would be 3.85 percent, with dollar increases capped at $15 for monthly tickets and $5.75 on weekly tickets. If approved, increases would go into effect mid-April, according to Pally. 

The MTA floated various proposals for raising fares on buses and subways, and Pally said the agency has chosen a plan that would keep the “base fare” for a single ride at the current rate of $2.75. That likely would mean doing away with the 5 percent “bonus” credit on the purchase of any MetroCard.

At Monday's meeting of the MTA’s Finance Committee, Lisa Daglian, executive director of the authority’s Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee, which includes the LIRR Commuter Council, said that “while it’s good news that the base fare is being kept flat, there should be no mistake: There is still a fare hike.

“What I think has been lost in a lot of the message is that we’re still looking at a fare increase for the weekly and monthly [MetroCard users] and the commuter railroad users,” Daglian added. “What’s really needed is sustainable and reliable funding.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a 10-point plan to restructure the MTA unveiled Tuesday, pushed for the passage of a congestion pricing bill that would generate new revenue for the MTA. They also said fares “must be controlled in future years through cost containment actions and improved management.”

Two different toll increase proposals would raise the cost of crossing one of the MTA’s major bridges and tunnels by between 23 cents and 46 cents.

Also, Wednesday's meeting is,expected to include a familiar face from the past. 

The State Senate on Tuesday confirmed David Mack as the board’s latest member representing Nassau County. Mack, a real estate executive, was forced out in 2009 by then-Attorney General Cuomo after Mack refused to cooperate with Cuomo’s investigation into the State Police.

Answering questions from Senate members at an Albany hearing, Mack, 77, said he had more than 20 years' experience in transportation and that he looks “forward to helping” the MTA once again.

Impact on LIRR riders

Details of the MTA’s proposed fare increase plan for LIRR commuters released in November:

Current Increase Proposed additional

Monthly 3.85% $15 (max/monthly)

Weekly 3.85% $5.75 (max/weekly)

One way 4% $.50 (per ticket)

$500-plus none none

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