Long Island commuters furious with MTA’s planned service cuts, fare increases

With debts reaching a staggering $31 billion as of fall 2010, the MTA has announced drastic service cuts and fare increases on the Long Island Rail Road; A change that has commuters infuriated.

Starting Monday, 46 trains will be cut from the LIRR while the planned along with a proposed fare increase of 7.5 percent that will start in January of 2011.

The MTA says the service cuts were specifically aimed at branches affecting the fewest number of customers; however, the 7.5 percent fare increase will impact all commuters if passed at the public hearing that will be hosted on Thursday by the MTA.

Port Washington Branch commuter, Eve McManus, says cuts and increases are an outrage.

“Not only do I have to wait 45 minutes for a train to work, but I have to pay extra for the terrible service as well?  It’s obvious that the bailout package failed miserably”

The MTA received a $2.2 billion bailout package in May of 2009 after threatening to increase fares by 30 percent to help cover massive debts.

Dara Clemens, 27, of West Hempstead is also angry at the LIRR.

“They completely eliminated the weekend service to the West Hempstead Branch, how am I supposed to afford getting to and from the city when public transportation is no longer an option to my area?”

The West Hempstead Branch is just one of the locations impacted by the MTA’s alterations.  Overnight service at the Atlantic Terminal was also eliminated; meaning trains to and from Brooklyn will no longer run from midnight to 5:30 a.m.  Other branches affected by the service cuts include Long Beach, Montauk, Port Washington, Ronkonkoma, and Greenport.

Along with the fare hikes and service cuts, the MTA has proposed to increase profits by reducing the time period in which certain ticket types are valid, increasing fees for certain ticket transactions, and eliminating the 2 percent mail & ride discount and the 4 percent MetroCard discount for joint purchase of monthly tickets and the MetroCard.

The public hearing will be held at the Garden City Hotel at 6pm this Thursday, September 16th. Registration opens at 5 p.m. Speakers can also register online at the MTA website, or by calling 212-878-7483.

If passed, the 2011 fare increase will be the fourth in the past five years, totaling an increase of over 30 percent in ticket prices.