The MTA provided a bit more clarity Tuesday on a newly-promised fare reduction policy for Long Island Railroad riders condemned to suffer through the impending summer of emergency-repair hell at Penn Station. The authority denied that any fare reduction was in the works as recently as last week, but indicated otherwise on Monday after Governor Andrew Cuomo, who effectively controls the MTA, called for a reduction.
The LIRR will offer discounts averaging 25 percent to LIRR riders whose trains divert to Hunterspoint Avenue in Queens and Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, according to the MTA. The actual discount amount will be scaled depending on how far a commuter is traveling. Riders will also get a free subway transfer from July 10th until an unspecified "completion of Amtrak repair work." (The estimate recently inched from six weeks to eight weeks.)
The reduced fare will also apply to riders traveling to Long Island City in Queens and Nostrand Avenue and East New York in Brooklyn, according to the MTA. LIRR riders whose trains terminate at Penn Station during the repairs will not receive a discount—a measure the MTA hopes will motivate commuters to take the diverted trains.
"Governor Cuomo has asked us to provide greater value to our customers while Amtrak conducts repairs this summer. In response we're adding to the mitigation measures we've already announced by providing a discount that will give customers who travel to key transportation hubs an average discount of 25%," said MTA Interim Director Ronnie Hakim. "We believe that this move will mitigate the inconvenience that our customers may experience, and have the added benefit of drawing customers away from Penn Station while Amtrak performs repair work."
The discount will apply to monthly, weekly and daily tickets, according to the MTA. Discounted monthly tickets officially went live today at windows and vending machines, and will be available online starting July 1st. Full monthly commuter fares currently range from $190 to $500.
The MTA anticipates 9,600 of a total 88,000 riders will be impacted by service changes on any given morning commute between 6:00 and 10:00 a.m. during the repairs, thanks to 15 canceled or rerouted trains daily. The MTA claims they will account for all of these riders by adding three additional trains on the early "shoulder" of the morning commute, as well as 36 additional train cars over 16 trains.
Of the 15 canceled and rerouted Penn Station trains, five will terminate at Atlantic Avenue, five at Jamaica, and three at Hunterspoint Avenue. Similarly, 17 of 86 total evening trains will be canceled or rerouted, with some evening trains originating at Atlantic Avenue, Jamaica and Hunterspoint. Two trains will be added at Penn in the evenings, as well.
Today's announcement from the MTA doesn't include any discount for trains terminating at Jamaica in Queens. According to the MTA, unlike Hunterspoint and Atlantic Avenue commuters, those terminating at Jamaica can switch to a Penn Station-bound LIRR train there.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said Monday that he'd like to see the same discount logic applied in the subway, with reduced fares for 2/3, F and L train riders during repairs to the Clark Street, Rutgers, and Canarsie tubes, respectively, as well as M, N and R train riders during repairs to those lines.
"We have one regional transportation network," Adams stated. "We cannot have two different ways of treating commuters amid this ongoing transit crisis."