MTA announces fare reductions

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A Long Island Rail Road train pulls into the East Williston station on the Oyster Bay branch. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced on Tuesday that it is now on track to cut fares for LIRR riders adversely affected by planned construction at Penn Station.

The action followed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for a discount.

Penn Station’s planned summer construction, set to occur from July 10 to Sept. 1, is expected to disrupt LIRR rush hour service by closing three of the station’s 21 tracks.

The construction plans came in wake of a long series of woes for Amtrak, which operates Penn Station. Signal problems on May 3 and 8 spawned cancellations, delays and temporarily put a brake on service between Jamaica and Penn Station. There were also train derailments on March 24 and April 3.

The LIRR will offer a 25 percent fare reduction for passengers traveling to Hunterspoint Avenue and Atlantic Terminal. It also includes trains diverted to these stations from Penn, as well as customers traveling to Long Island City, Nostrand Avenue and East New York.

The reductions, based on how far passengers are traveling, will be in effect for the duration of Amtrak repair work.

LIRR riders will also be given free transfers on the subways at Atlantic and Hunterspoint Avenue.

“Governor Cuomo has asked us to provide greater value to our customers while Amtrak conducts repairs this summer,” MTA interim Director Ronnie Hakim said. “In response we’re adding to the mitigation measures we’ve already announced by providing a discount that will give customers who travel to key transportation hubs an average discount of 25 percent.”

Previously, Hakim did not offer fare discounts and said the agency’s focus would be on “providing service” and creating a plan to give customers “as many choices as possible.”

The MTA plans to cancel some overnight trains between 2 and 4 a.m. Officials also said some trains will terminate early and divert to Atlantic Terminal and Jamaica.

Officials also said they are adding 36 more cars to trains and three trains to the rush-hour commute. They estimate this could accommodate the 9,600 customers expected to be affected.

The MTA will also add two ferry routes it estimated can accommodate 2,300 riders. One starts at Glen Cove and can take commuters to the 34th Street pier, while the other will go from Long Island City to the 34 Street pier.

This is on top of adding 200 coach buses at eight different park-and-ride locations. The buses will drop people off on 34th and 42nd streets between 6 and 10 a.m. and pick them up between 3 and 7 p.m.

Officials also said truck tolls will be reduced by 50 percent from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. This aims to incentivize them to travel at night.

State Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-C-Manhasset) previously called for fare reductions.

“Having spent many years taking the LIRR to Manhattan, I believe charging riders the same price for significantly reduced service is totally unfair,” Phillips said. “If service is being cut, fares should be cut too.”

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