MTA pilot program will discount commuter rail fares for city riders except in Far Rockaway

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The MTA is expanding a deal to its commuter rail riders who use the Long Island Rail Road or Metro-North to travel within city limits.

The pilot program would provide a 10 percent discount on daily LIRR tickets and a 20 percent discount on monthly LIRR tickets beginning May 1 for every Queens LIRR station except Far Rockaway.

“Once again, the Long Island Rail Road fails to acknowledge that far Rockaway is in Queens,” Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said. “The LIRR are asking my constituents, who have the farthest commutes in the city, to pay full price on the most expensive form of public transportation we have and that is completely unfair. I cannot understand why the LIRR continues to exclude my community from these great programs. It doesn’t matter that the train runs through Nassau, these are Queens residents and they should receive the same benefits as every other Queens resident.”

The MTA said Pheffer Amato is correct that Far Rockaway is excluded from the program as it is currently configured. The agency is looking into whether there might be some way to amend the program.

“We take this seriously; just like all pilots, we want to look for opportunities for success,” LIRR President Phil Eng said. “Far Rockaway is a unique situation that has come up before but we are reviewing thoroughly and with an open mind.”

Despite being in Queens, the Far Rockaway station is also excluded from the City Ticket program and the Atlantic Ticket program. The funds for the pilot program have been made available through the Outer Borough Transportation Account which is controlled at the discretion of the New York State Legislature.

“Improving transit access by lowering commuter rail fares for New York City riders has long been a priority for me,” state Senator Leroy Comrie said. “Providing commuters quality, affordable alternatives to driving is a desirable policy goal, so I look forward to continuing our work with the MTA to identify needed improvements for outer borough commuters.”

The programs are essential in northeast Queens where there is no subway access and limited public transportation options for commuters.

“As part of last year’s state budget, it was critical for us to ensure that the needs of our communities were not neglected,” Assemblywoman Nily Rozic said. “Relief in the outer boroughs where commuters are far too familiar with increasing fares and travel times is long overdue and I look forward to seeing these improvements through for northeast Queens transit riders.”