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Hearings regarding proposed Long Island Rail Road fare increases and changes in levels of service proposed by the MTA Board as a way to close what the MTA projects as a $1.2 billion deficit in 2009 are currently taking place with one scheduled for Jan. 21 at the Garden City Hotel. The hearing will begin at 6 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the hotel, located at 45 Seventh Street in Garden City.

The proposal calls for fare increases of up to 29 percent. Those who take the Long Island Rail Road to work into Penn Station and back to Mineola will be impacted by the fare increases.

A monthly ticket from Mineola to Penn Station currently costs $185. The proposed fare increase for the cost of a monthly ticket from Mineola, which is in Zone 4, to Penn Station would be $235, an increase of $50 or 27 percent.

A one-way ticket from Mineola to Penn Station currently costs $6.25 and $12.50 for round trip during off-peak hours. The proposal calls for the prices of those tickets to increase to $7.75 and $15.50 respectively, an increase of 24 percent.

A one-way ticket from Mineola to Penn Station currently costs $8.50 and $17 for round trip during peak hours. The proposal calls for the prices of those tickets to increase to $10.75 and $21.50 respectively, an increase of 26 percent.

The MTA is also proposing toll hikes for bridges and tunnels. The current one-way toll for cars for the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge, Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and Queens Midtown Tunnel is $5 or $4.15 for EZ Pass. The proposal calls for those one-way tolls to increase to $6.50 or $5.26 for EZ Pass.

Changes in service for the subway are also being proposed.

According to an MTA spokesperson, service cuts could come sometime in the spring while fare cuts are expected to come in June if the proposals were to go forward.

The increases could be lessened if the recommendations made by the Ravitch Commission, a commission appointed by the governor to seek ways to fund MTA capital projects and operating needs, are implemented.

- Joe Rizza


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