Push for affordable LIRR fares in Queens
by Jennifer Khedaroo
Jan 22, 2019 | 1657 views | 0 0 comments | 130 130 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dozens of people gathered in front of the Long Island Rail Road headquarters in Jamaica on Friday, calling on the MTA to end a steep paywall for the city’s commuters.

A one-way ride on the LIRR for some Queens residents can cost up to $10.25. Instead, advocates proposed a fare equal to that of a one-way subway ride, or $2.75.

Richard Uwangu, a 24-year-old recent college graduate, is beginning his career in security. However, the St. Albans resident said he spends $20.50 daily commuting between his home and job.

“It’s hard to save money when I have to keep paying this excessive amount,” he said. “I could take the subway. but that would take me two hours extra just to get home.”

According to a report released by Comptroller Scott Stringer, about 1.4 million residents across the city, including 733,000 in Queens, are impacted by high commuter fares.

“In Queens, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are being locked out of fast, reliable service everyday by sky-high ticket prices for the commuter rail system,” Stringer said.

Stringer said the cost to the MTA of providing lower fares on the LIRR for New York City residents would be about $70 million, far less that the cost of building a new station.

In Queens, there are 18 stations that are located in neighborhoods beyond the subway’s reach.

“The district in Eastern Queens that I represent has no subway stations, but several nearby LIRR stations, which afford relatively quick access to downtown Brooklyn and midtown Manhattan,” said Councilman Barry Grodenchik. “If ferry rides are the same as those for bus and subway rides, and the city can provide significant funding to subsidize the cost of ferry service, railroad tickets from Queens should be sold for the same price.”

A LIRR ride from Queens Village to Manhattan is 35 minutes, while from Auburndale the ride is 25 minutes. Between the subway and bus, the commute is 80 minutes from Queens Village and 75 minutes from Auburndale.

“There are a number of plans and projects in the pipelines that will help bring New York City’s subway and bus system to a state of good repair, but it may be years before riders experience the benefits,” said Liam Bank, a policy manager with the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “Reducing commuter rail fares for travel within the city can be done much quicker, for a relatively low cost, and provide immediate relief to many New Yorkers who need better access to jobs, housing and education.”
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