Bumpy Ride: Rising Fares on the LIRR


It’s costing riders more to ride a Long Island Rail Road train.

Fares went up beginning March 19, although monthly pass holders won’t see the increase until they buy their April ticket.

On average, most riders will pay about 4 percent more, but some tickets will go up by as much as 6 percent.

Zone Monthly fare pre-hike New fare Percent increase One-way peak pre-hike New fare Percent increase
1 $184 $190 3.26% $8.25 $8.75 6.06%
3 $218 $226 3.67% $10.00 $10.25 2.50%
4 $252 $261 3.57% $11.50 $12.00 4.35%
7 $287 $297 3.48% $13.00 $13.50 3.85%
9 $338 $350 3.55% $15.25 $16.00 4.92%
10 $377 $391 3.71% $18.25 $19.00 4.11%
12 $446 $461 3.36% $21.75 $22.50 3.45%
14 $485 $500 3.09% $28.25 $29.25 3.54%

LIRR fares are based on geographical zones; the higher the zone number, the higher the fare is and the farther the distance from Penn Station.

MetroCards and MTA bridge and tunnel tolls will be going up too.

The cost of a monthly MetroCard increases by $4.50 to $121

Tolls on most major bridges increase by 50 cents or less

Tolls on most major tunnels increase by 50 cents or less

One piece of the puzzle

A monthly ticket between Mineola and Penn Station used to cost $178 in 2007. It will cost $261 beginning in April. For Ronkonkoma commuters, a monthly pass cost $267 ten years ago. It’s going up to $391. And, as expensive as fares are, MTA officials say they pale in comparison to the cost of operating the largest public transportation system in the United States. Fares account for about 40 percent of the MTA’s total revenue. Most of the rest comes from dedicated taxes and bridge and tunnel fares—meaning drivers are covering part of LIRR riders’ trips.

But LIRR riders still aren’t happy about the latest fare hike

It’s the sixth in the last ten years. In that time, LIRR fares have gone up by about 38 percent.

But the MTA says the upcoming fare hike just keeps up with inflation—averaging about 2 percent a year. And they also point out that the increase is the lowest since the MTA adopted a schedule of raising fares every other year back in 2009.

But how do ticket prices compare with other costs over the last decade, on average?

38%

Some of the steepest hikes have been from Mineola to Penn Station: $178 to $261, and from Ronkonkoma to Penn: $267 to $391.

3.3%

A gallon of unleaded gasoline has gone from $2.27 to $2.35

7.8%

A gallon of milk has gone from about $3.07 to $3.32

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Improvements on the way

Still, MTA officials say customers are getting more for their fare dollar than ever before. The railroad says it’s working hard to modernize and expand the 183-year-old railroad, including through big-ticket infrastructure projects. You just won’t see the full impact of these projects for a few years.

East Side Access
$10.2B

Double Track project
$387.2M

Expansion, including 3rd track
$2B

Positive train control crash technology
$968M

Penn Station renovation
$1.68B

Phase 1 of Jamaica upgrade
$442M

In the meantime, the MTA has made some improvements over the years, including adding trains on some lines, the recent roll out of e-tickets and station renovations. And the agency has said it will consider new ideas, like discounts for trips made within Long Island and within New York City, when making further changes to fares in the future.

It won’t take all that long. Another fare hike is scheduled for 2019.