By Mark Hallum
The MTA will temporarily offer discounted rates with a pilot program for commuters traveling between Brooklyn and Queens from Atlantic Terminal on the Long Island Rail Road to experiment how offering lower fares will affect ridership.
The study, called Atlantic Ticket, will offer lower rates to LIRR riders who commute through the Brooklyn hub in an attempt to fill seats on these trains, which have greater capacity than those traveling to and from Penn Station.
“Many of our customers from eastern and southeastern Queens live near enough to the LIRR to use it regularly, but because of our existing fare structure they’ve historically chosen to commute using a combination of MTA subways and buses,” MTA Chair Joseph Lhota said. “This study will let us gauge whether lowering LIRR fares has an effect on ridership of the LIRR, subway and express buses. We also want to see how the policy change affects existing LIRR operations.”
The stations in Queens where commuters can take advantage of $5 rates at all hours are in Hollis, Jamaica, Laurelton, Locust Manor, Queens Village, Rosedale and St. Albans.
The $5 fare will represent a 51 percent reduction in price from the peak hour charge of $10.25 and a 33 percent decrease from the off-peak $7.50, the MTA said.
The MTA said this would make up for the $2.75 a customer would have to pay for a transfer to the subway.
The study was suggested by New York City Transit Riders Council led by Andrew Albert, an MTA board member.
“I am extremely gratified that our proposal is being given a thorough and well-publicized test for southeast Queens and Brooklyn,” Albert said. “We believe this will change travel patterns and give people a lot more of their personal time back at a reasonable rate. It may also reduce overcrowding on several overcrowded subway lines.”
Weekly tickets will be reduced to $60 under the study, which begins June 6, but these rates will not be available on the train.
This is nearly the same amount as the unlimited weekly fare for express buses offered by the state agency for $59.
“This one-way fare is intended to attract customers traveling occasionally or interested in trying out LIRR before purchasing the weekly pass,” Lhota said.
To take advantage of the discounted prices, riders must buy from the ticket counter or a ticketing machine and not through the MTA eTix app, the agency said.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall