The Metropolitan Transit Authority is proposing a series of changes to the Long Island Rail Road that will roll out over the next couple of months, including fare increases and service adjustments to the Port Washington and Oyster Bay branches.
On Aug. 20, monthly and weekly tickets for the LIRR will increase by up to 4.5%. Monthly ticket fares will not exceed $500, which the MTA website states is to address high ticket pricing for the furthest railroad zones.
For example, monthly fares from Zone 4, which includes New Hyde Park, East Williston, Great Neck, Manhasset and Port Washington, to Penn Station and Grand Central Madison will increase from $243 to $253.
For those traveling from Zone 7, which includes Albertson, Roslyn, Sea Cliff and Glen Cove, to Manhattan, monthly fares will rise from $277 to $287.
While ticket pricing will be increasing, fares will be lower than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic due to a 10% discount implemented in March 2022, according to the MTA website.
The discount for traveling off-peak will also be standardized at 26% for both the LIRR and Metro-North. The prior discount rates were established at 27.5% for the LIRR and 25% for Metro-North, which provides service between New York City and the northern suburbs in New York and Connecticut.
The standardization of off-peak travel discounts will lead to an increase of 6% to 7% on LIRR off-peak tickets and an increase of 2% to 3% on Metro-North off-peak tickets.
The LIRR will continue offering UniTicket fares to travel on both commuter rail and connecting bus and ferry services. Changes in these fares will be based in part on changes to weekly and monthly transit fares.
In tandem with fare changes, many LIRR branches will be implementing service changes on Sept. 5. These changes are being introduced to increase service to Penn Station and add more direct services to Brooklyn, according to the MTA website.
On the Oyster Bay Branch, the 7:17 a.m. train from Oyster Bay to Penn Station will have all riders transfer to an empty train at Jamaica. This is to reduce crowding, according to the MTA website.
The Manhattan-bound 7:01 a.m. train from Oyster Bay will also be converted to an express train. skipping the Glen Cove, Sea Cliff, Greenvale, Albertson and Mineola stations.
State Assemblymember Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) said he is pleased with the service changes. He said the changes were achieved after months-long communication between him, Glen Cove City Councilwoman Danielle Fugazy and the MTA.
“We have worked hand in hand and I look forward to continuing to build on the progress made here in an ongoing effort to make the commute a little easier for riders of the Oyster Bay branch,” Lavine said.
Effective immediately, Oyster Bay branch trains heading towards Jamaica and leaving at 4:56 a.m. and 5:56 a.m. will not stop at the Mineola station. Eastbound trains leaving at 6:22 p.m. will also not stop at the Mineola station.
The Port Washington Branch will have two changes implemented to its service.
The weekday trains at 6:08 p.m. and 6:11 p.m. from Grand Central, both of which run partially express, will be combined to offer a single train leaving at 6:11 p.m. This train will make all stops along the Port Washington line.
Also, all late-night trains will run to and from Penn Station during the week from 10:30 p.m.-1 a.m. and on weekends from midnight to 7 a.m. This will be omitting service to and from Grand Central during those times.
North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte, who represents Port Washington and Plandome— two communities serviced by the Port Washington Branch—said she is frustrated with the LIRR service changes. This frustration is exacerbated by the MTA fare increases on top of it.
“They want to increase our fee, but then they’re decreasing our service,” Dalimonte said. “They want us to pay more but get less trains.”
Dalimonte said the LIRR service changes to accomadate trains running to and from Grand Central Madison immediately posed problems when all express trains to Penn Station were initially proposed to be removed when service to Grand Central began. She, along with other government officials, fought to get the express trains reinstated.
Six express trains were reinstated: three in the morning and three in the evening.
Dalimonte said the main need of Port Washington Branch riders is reinstating all express trains running to and from Penn Station, a service that commuters previously had and were accustomed to.
She said the service change combining two trains, both of which are partially express and skip differing stations along the branch, is another example of the LIRR diminishing train services with shorter travel times for commuters.
“We need more express trains,” Dalimonte said. “We need more service to and from Penn Station.”
As a former 14-year-long commuter on the LIRR, Dalimonte said the mass transit service needs to suit everyone’s needs, which it is not doing as of late.
“So I am very frustrated with their changes as of Sept. 5 that they did not think of Port Washington in these changes,” Dalimonte said.
Dalimonte is advocating on behalf of her constituents to get the train service along the Port Washington Branch that commuters need. She said she has continuously called the governor’s Long Island representative to voice her frustration and explain the commuting needs of her constituents.
She said she has also written letters to the LIRR and Interim President Catherine Rinaldi, asking for ridership data and expressing her concerns with the train service.
Dalimonte has also met with LIRR representatives about the design process for the third track at the Port Washington Train Station, but has not received any updates despite reaching out to them.
“I will advocate as much as I can for my district,” Dalimonte said. “I know as a former commuter how much I relied on the train schedule.”