State Sen.-elect Elaine Phillips called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week to add funding to next year’s state budget to avert proposed plans by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to increase Long Island Rail Road fares.
On Nov. 16, the MTA announced proposals to increase fares for both public transportation and tolls, which includes a $15 maximum increase for monthly LIRR tickets and a $6.75 maximum increase for weekly tickets.
“We depend on the MTA to provide commuters a safe, convenient and affordable way to get to and from work but, sadly, it’s failing as delays mount due to overdue maintenance and fares increase to the point where riding the train is becoming unaffordable,” Phillips said.
She said that residents in the 7th Senate District, which she was elected to represent last month, pay as much as $3,444 per year to commute by train into the city.
Phillips added that it does not include the additional cost of using subways and buses for LIRR riders to arrive at their final destination. The MTA is also proposing an increase of MetroCard fares to $3 from $2.75 for a single ride.
MTA officials said that the proposed increases are the lowest since 2009.
“The MTA continues to keep its promise to make sure that fare and toll increases, while necessary to keep our system running, remain as low and possible and that they are done in as equitable a way as possible,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said in a statement. “Fare and toll revenue cover just 51 percent of the operating budget, which is why this modest increase is needed to ensure that subway, rail, bus and paratransit services continue to operate safely and reliably and to fuel the region’s economic and financial growth.”
Charts outlining the proposed prices for LIRR tickets by station are available at www.mta.info.
Citing a study conducted by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Phillips said recent fare increases have equaled three times the amount of inflation.
She was also critical of the LIRR’s 9.8-mile proposal to add a third track from Floral Park to Hicksville, saying it should focus on making traveling more affordable for riders rather than expensive projects.
“Instead of raising fares and promoting expensive mega projects that will cost billions of taxpayer and railroad customers’ money, like the ‘third track,’ the state needs to step up and provide funding to treat Long Island commuters more fairly, support the railroad’s core mission, promote safety and ensure affordability,” Phillips said. “Right now, the MTA is making plans to spend billions of dollars to install new tracks, but without first taking steps to improve safety and keep fares down.”
“It’s time for the MTA to get its priorities straight and ensure that commuters are getting the service they pay for without asking them to dig even deeper,” she added.
The MTA will hold eight public hearings throughout MTA’s service territory to get comment from members of the public on the proposed fare hikes.
For residents on Long Island, the public hearing will take place at the Hilton Long Island/Huntington, located at 598 Broad Hollow Road in Melville, at 5 p.m. The registration period to speak at the meeting or to have comment placed into the official record is from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Members of the public can register in advance to speak at a meeting by calling 646-252-6777 between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Additionally, those interested can submit comments via email by going to www.mta.info or by mailing a letter to MTA Government Affairs, 20th Floor, 2 Broadway, New York, NY 10004.
Reach reporter Joe Nikic by e-mail at [email protected], by phone at 516.307.1045 x203. Also follow us on Twitter @joenikic and Facebook at facebook.com/theislandnow.

By Joe Nikic
Multiplex Content Recommendation - 1