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Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Anyone who lives or works in eastern Queens and doesn’t have a car knows the pain of relying on public transit to get around.

There is primarily one inexpensive option for those who lives east of Flushing and Jamaica — a network of buses that is often slowed by competing vehicles on congested streets. Those lucky enough to live within walking distance or a short ride from the Long Island Rail Road have an easy and quick way to get to and from Manhattan — but at rates more than twice the $2.75 MetroCard base fare.

Eastern Queens desperately needs more public transportation, but extending existing subway lines to the Nassau border is a non-starter, as these projects are hugely expensive and the MTA’s budget is limited. Even areas in western Queens could use additional transit options with ridership on subways and buses soaring.

Therefore, we believe the MTA should work with its partners in state and city government to make the Freedom Ticket idea a reality as soon as possible.

The Freedom Ticket idea was recently pitched by the New York City Transit Riders Council. For $215 a month, a Freedom Ticket would get you unlimited New York City transit rides and trips on Metro-North or the LIRR within the city. Currently, someone who uses the LIRR and New York City Transit to get around Queens needs to shell out $218 for an LIRR monthly pass and $116.50 for a 30-day unlimited MetroCard. The Freedom Ticket will save these riders $119.50 every month — money that could go back into the local economy.

The riders council suggests launching the Freedom Ticket program first in southeast Queens in 2017 and then phasing it in across the city over the next two years. We believe, however, that commuters across Queens shouldn’t have to wait that long.

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