Residents let their voices be heard Jan. 21 at a hearing regarding proposed Long Island Rail Road fare increases and changes in levels of service. The hearing was held in The Garden City Hotel's Grand Ballroom.

Proposed by the MTA Board as a way to close what the MTA projects as a $1.2 billion deficit in 2009, commuters living in Zone 7, which includes Westbury and Carle Place, could see increases of up to 29 percent.

After already reducing expenses and streamlining operations, MTA officials argue that they only have two remaining means within their control for closing the financial gap: raise fares and tolls and reduce service.

Fare and toll increases would yield a 23 percent increase.

In December, however, the Commission on Metropolitan Transportation Authority Financing (Ravitch Commission) made a series of recommendations to provide new sources of revenue. If implemented, these new revenue streams could reduce the fare and crossing charge increase to a more reasonable 8 percent and largely eliminate the need for service reductions.

Those who take the Long Island Rail Road to work into Penn Station and back to the Carle Place and Westbury stations will certainly be impacted by the fare increases.

A monthly ticket from Zone 7, which both Westbury and Carle Place are located in, currently costs $211. The proposed fare increase for the cost of a monthly ticket from Zone 7 to Penn Station would be $267, an increase of $56.

A one-way ticket to Penn Station currently costs $7 and $14 for round trip during off-peak hours. The proposal calls for the prices of those tickets to increase to $9 and $18 respectively.

Additionally, a one-way ticket to Penn Station from Zone 7 currently costs $9.75 while a roundtrip trip during peak hours costs $19.50. The proposal calls for the prices of those tickets to increase to $12.25 and $24.50, 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 hikes 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.

Current Proposed Ravitch Recommendation
$211 $267 $229
Current Proposed Ravitch Recommendation
$67.50 $85.50 $73.25
Current Proposed Ravitch Recommendation
$9.75 $12.25 $10.50
Current Proposed Ravitch Recommendation
$7 $9 $7.50 Logo
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