'They Can't Pay It': LIRR Fare Hike Will Be Unaffordable For Some

February 11, 2019 - 10:25 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – A proposed MTA fare hike is not sitting well with Long Island Rail Road commuters, some of whom may not even be able to afford to ride the trains anymore. 

Riders in 1999 paid an average of $170 a month to ride the LIRR to and from the city each month. You have to double that to get to today’s prices, with a 4 percent fare hike by the MTA looming.

Mark Epstein chairs an LIRR commuter council, a state-mandated group that acts as a go-between for riders and the MTA. He says riders simply can’t afford it anymore.  

“It can’t function like this, it will not continue, people will not continue to pay it. It’s not because they don’t want to – nobody wants to pay it. Now they can’t pay it,” Epstein said.

Newsday reports the rate of increase in fare prices far outweighs the rate of inflation and income growth for Long Islanders.

Epstein commutes from Wyandanch and says people at his station pay $464 a month to get to Penn Station, plus another $70 for parking – double that in households where multiple people commute.

Epstein thinks the MTA is taking money from commuters and not using it to improve the system. He’s been calling for a transportation lockbox for years, but he says lawmakers in Albany are in a bind.

“They don’t know where to get the money from,” he said. “This has been years and years of neglect […> regarding not using transportation funds for transportation purposes.”