The LIRR’s 200,000 daily passengers will pay more for their train ticket starting Sunday, while calls grow for the railroad to reconsider eliminating a popular ticket discount program.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s latest fare increase, which was approved last month, raises rates on the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North, subways, and New York City buses. Because it accepts the Metro-Card, Nassau County’s transit system, known as NICE Bus, also is raising fares to match those of the MTA.
Although the MTA aims to increase fare revenue by 4%, the actual size of the increase will vary depending on the mode of transportation and by ticket type. The cost of a bus or subway ride will go to $2.90, from the current $2.75 — the first hike of the “base fare” in eight years.
On the LIRR, one-way, off-peak tickets will rise by 4.6%. Weekly and monthly tickets will rise, on average, by 4.3%. The new monthly ticket rates take effect in September.
Toll hikes on the MTA's bridges and tunnels took effect earlier this month, raising the cost almost 6% for E-ZPass customers and 10% for other drivers.
MTA officials have said the increases, which will generate an extra $305 million in annual revenue, are modest, and necessary to keep up with growing costs at the transit agency. But elimination of its 20-Trip Ticket means users of the fare discount program will pay about 30% more for 20 peak trips.
MTA chairman and CEO Janno Lieber on Tuesday defended the decision to nix the fare discount program. Speaking at a Far Rockaway news conference, Lieber said the overall fare increase was part of a broader state budget deal that brought in an extra $1 billion in government aid to the MTA.
“We prioritize the great majority of Long Island Rail Road riders, who are buying monthlies and using this more traditional fare product,” said Lieber, who noted that, because of a 10% price reduction last year, monthly LIRR tickets will be cheaper than they were in 2019. “Something had to give, and it was this 20 ticket, which actually had a much smaller user group” compared to monthly tickets.
The LIRR will honor the 20-Trip Tickets, which are valid for 60 days, until their expiration date, meaning that customers who buy the ticket before Sunday could continue using it into October. With 19 trips left on his current 20-Trip Ticket, Merrick commuter Peter Roth says there's no point in buying another before it's no longer for sale come Sunday, because he'll likely run out of time to use it.
Although Roth said he understands the need for regular, small increases, he believes the elimination of the 20-Trip Ticket goes too far.
"I get it. They need money. Everybody does. But don't take away the product. Raise the price of the product," said Roth, 54, who works in investment banking. "That's really the sting of it all, because I would buy the [20-Trip Ticket] forever. I'd gladly pay a little more for it. But just to take it away, and force me into a monthly, it's not a service to a lot of people."
The move also has drawn outrage among both Republican- and Democratic-elected officials. In a letter to LIRR officials earlier this month, Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown) said the elimination of the 20-Trip Ticket, which was created last year to cater to part-time commuters, was “particularly concerning and harmful to the 14,000 riders who buy into the beneficial program every month.” Thomas urged the railroad to reconsider the decision.
Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) declared on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that the MTA “is sticking it to Long Islanders again,” with the elimination of the 20-Trip Ticket.
With Robert Brodsky