Long Island Railroad customers expected to suffer during this summer's impending Penn Station Commute Of Doom will get at least a small concession over the next few months—the MTA announced today it will likely grant a fare decrease for some commuters.
Amtrak will take three of Penn Station's 21 tracks out of commission for weeks this summer, following a slew of power losses, derailments and other infrastructure-related disasters this year. The track work will result in copious delays, cancellations and diversions for Amtrak, LIRR, and NJ Transit riders, and though initially the MTA said LIRR riders would not get a fare reduction—unlike some NJ Transit riders, who are expected to see up to a 63 percent decrease in fares—today Governor Cuomo asked the MTA to offer discounted fares to LIRR riders whose trains will terminate at Atlantic Terminal or Hunterspoint instead of at Penn Station.
"I think the Long Island Rail Road should consider reducing the fares on those diverted trains. That’s only fair to the people who are taking those trains," Cuomo said today. "If you’re taking a diverted train you’re not getting the service you paid for."
MTA Chair Ronnie Hakim said this afternoon that the agency intends to follow through.
"Governor Cuomo is right that due to Amtrak’s repairs some customers are paying for a service they won’t be getting this summer - and that they deserve a fare decrease," Hakim said in a statement. "We intend to follow the Governor's lead and make sure our riders are fairly compensated."
It's not clear yet exactly which riders will get reduced fares, or by how much said fares will be reduced. Cuomo also asked the MTA to look into reducing fares for subway riders who'll have to make room for LIRR commuters released at already-crowded stations like Atlantic Ave-Barclays Center or the 7 station at Hunters Point.
Note that a fair reduction isn't necessarily a perfect tradeoff to what promises to be the worst commuting summer in recent history—nor are the free Taste NY snacks and drinks the MTA will serve at hospitality tents set up at shuttle bus stops in Long Island to alleviate crowding on remaining LIRR trains. But considering riders are looking at eight weeks of reduced and rerouted service, it's better than nothing.
Meanwhile, the Port Authority of NY and NJ announced today that PATH will add morning and evening rush hour trains to accommodate NJ Transit riders displaced by the Penn Station work. NJ > LI, as the suburbs go.