March may come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, but for many New York Metropolitan area commuters, March is bringing something different: a new transit fare increase.
Starting in March, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will be hiking its fares for all its passengers on most of its subsidiaries, including the Long Island Railroad. According to an MTA press release, the base fare for the subway and bus services will be increased by 25 cents to $2.75 for single-use riders while the 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard will be bumped up to $116.50 and the 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard to $31.
LIRR commuters will not be left out of the MTA’s latest efforts to balance its budget. Weekly and monthly LIRR tickets will increase by 4.25 percent, leaving frequent commuters either feeling down about the hike or embracing it as a necessary evil.
Stony Brook Station
For the fifth time in almost a decade, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposed to raise fares across all of its subsidiaries, including the Long Island Railroad. The fare increase, which takes effect on March 22, 2015, will raise by as much as 6.1 percent for LIRR customers. Photo by Melissa Cheri (Feb. 25, 2015)”
Damon Graziano, a freshman studying health science at Stony Brook University, is not a frequent commuter but needs to be able to get home if need be. The fare increase does not effect this particular trip home, nor will it in the future when the fare takes effect in March, he said. Graziano added for a student traveling only once-in-a-while, it doesn’t bother him to pay a little bit more. “It doesn’t hurt because it is already so cheap to go home,” he said. After buying a $5.25 single-use ticket to Hicksville transferring at Huntington Station, Graziano, a resident at the university, waited to board the 4:19 p.m. train on Wednesday, Feb. 25 for a routine doctor’s appointment. Photo by JD Allen
Approximately 60 percent of Stony Brook University students are daily commuters, according to the university’s Office of Institutional Research. University students share the train with east-end workers heading home, and unlike Graziano not everyone is so keen on the impending increase. Photo by Melissa Cheri (Feb. 25, 2015)
For these commuters, many of whom may be traveling as far west as Pennsylvania Station, this is one of 14 trains available. Many of them traveling westbound may stop at one of two major hubs — Huntington Station and Jamaica Station — on their way home. Photo by JD Allen (Feb. 25, 2015)
Brentwood resident Matthew Stuart, 35, said that the fare increase will likely make him more cognizant of how he travels. “I think that it will make me a little bit more mindful of travels, but unfortunately, you have to take the train into the city on most occasions,” Stuart said. Photo by Melissa Cheri (Feb. 28, 2015)
Jamaica station is a highly-trafficked hub for the LIRR. With 10 of the 11 branches stopping here, customers can change trains for connections to other branches. Photo by Melissa Cheri (Feb. 28, 2015)
Fay Parris — who lives in Queens, but regularly takes both the Long Island Railroad and the New York City subway — said she is unsure of how the MTA fare increase will impact her. “I haven’t given it that much thought. But when it happens, I would really have to take stock,” Parris said. ” Since it is affecting both–I would just have to make some very wise decisions in terms of how and when I travel.” Photo by Melissa Cheri (Feb. 28, 2015)
“The Stony Brook stop on the Port Jefferson branch is regularly utilized by the campus community, both students and faculty alike,” Emily Resnick, assistant director of the Commuter Student Services and Off-Campus Living, said. Commuters from New York’s boroughs are bound to stop at Jamaica Station and Huntington Station for transfers to adjacent branches. The price increases from major rail hub to hub, so commuters traveling greater distances will pay greater fares. Photo by Melissa Cheri (Feb. 28, 2015)
Robert Federici, an employee at Fairfield Mortgage and a monthly-pass buyer, said his four- or five-day commute via LIRR to Penn Station from Huntington will have him feel the pinch in his pocket. The increase in fares cannot be legitimized, he added. if there is not a clear reason for the increase. Federici said he is tired of “the MTA squeezing commuters for money every couple of years,” especially when there is no clear commuter-gain from it. Photo by JD Allen (March 2, 2015)
Frank Calderon moved to Long Island from Queens in 2009. When he lived in one of New York’s most populated boroughs, Calderon thought his daily commute on the Long Island Railroad was going to be a lot like his previous journey on Metro-North, but that was not the case, he said. “I came here and I assumed the LIRR was a pretty stable and reliable transportation, but that is not the case,” Calderon said. “I never experienced a railroad with so many delays.” Calderon, an IT-worker at a financial-services firm, refused to be photographed because of strict company-media relation policies. Photo by JD Allen (March 2, 2015)
Traveling by rail, by bike, by subway car or taxi, Calderon said he makes his daily commute from Huntington Station to the Downtown Manhattan financial district in approximately 2-hours — often making his journey a total of 4-hours, round-trip at a TransitPass-discounted rate of $300 per month. Every day is a frustrating battle, he said. The LIRR, he added, just has too few rail cars available, especially during peak hours — often leaving commuters standing in the isle. Combined with the pay increase and frequent delays, Calderon said “it is frustrating to say the least.” Photo by JD Allen (March 2, 2015)
““I feel like I am being nickled and dimed,” Calderon said. Photo by JD Allen (March 2, 2015)