Just a day after the Long Island Rail Road began returning to "near normal" service after shutting down because of a blizzard, commuters will be asked to pay more for the experience as the MTA raises fares that will affect almost every form of transit in the New York area.
Beginning at 2 a.m. Thursday, and just in time to catch Friday's New Year's Eve travelers, a 7.5% system-wide hike will raise fares for subway, bus and rail travel and for bridge and tunnel crossings. The increase is expected to raise $421 million in 2011 in an effort to close a $900 million budget gap. At the same time, some discounts on many kinds of tickets will shrink or disappear. Further increases of 7.5% are planned for 2013.
As the busiest commuter railroad in North America, the LIRR serves approximately 83 million passengers annually. Not all of those customers are happy with the current level of service, making any fare increase more difficult to accept.
Commuter Jody Fisher shared his opinion by tweeting, "My new LIRR monthly pass arrived…$397 for LIRR plus unlimited MC, up 8.8%. Somehow I doubt service will improve by the same rate."
And Jason Liebowitz tweeted, "Just received my monthly invoice. LIRR are you kidding me?! 15% more a month and half as many trains?!! What kind of math is that?!"
Most commuter rail tickets will increase between 7.6% and 9.4% depending on ticket type and distance traveled. Huntington residents who take the train, the bus or who travel by car into and out of the city will all be affected by the new prices.
For a commuter or visitor traveling between Huntington and Penn Station, for example, the price of a one-way peak ticket increases from $12.50 to $13.50; off-peak from $9 to $9.75. You can also purchase a discounted 10-ticket off peak option for $83, up from $76.50 or 10-ticket peak for $135, up from $125. A monthly ticket will go from the current price of $274 to $299 and weekly from $87.75 to $95.75. For senior citizens the price of a one-way ticket increases from $6 to $6.75.
Monthly tickets for January, which have been on sale since Dec. 20 have been priced at the new rate. Weekly tickets for January 1-7, offered for sale beginning Dec. 29, are also at the new rate.
It's still a best bet to purchase your ticket before boarding. Once on board, tickets are cash only and a one-way peak increases from $19 to $20. An off-peak one way ticket goes from $15 to $16 when purchased on board.
The base fare of $2.25 remains unchanged, with a single ride ticket increasing to $2.50. The express-bus fare remains $5.50. The 30-day unlimited fare increases to $104 from $89 and the 7-day unlimited ticket increases to $29 from $27. Both the 14-day pass and 1-day fun pass have been discontinued.
BRIDGE AND TUNNEL TOLLS
Tolls are also being hiked for New York bridges and tunnels, including an increase from $11 to $13 to cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge when paying cash, and from $9.14 to $9.60 for EZ Pass customers. Major crossings including Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge, Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and the Queens Midtown Tunnel will increase from $5.50 to $6.50 for cash customers and from $4.57 to $4.80 on EZ Pass.
A complete list of fare increases and service changes can be found on the MTA website.