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MTA Joint LIRR and Metro-North Committee Testimony-‘Improving Ticketing and Service for Riders’

Good morning. I’m Kara Gurl, Planning and Advocacy Manager at the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC).

A year ago, we were eagerly waiting to learn when Grand Central Madison would finally open. Today, we’re glad to see ongoing schedule tweaks and adjustments to smooth out some of the bumps in the road since the new service began, and thank you for continuing to listen to riders.

Unfortunately, there is still work to be done so that LIRR riders can fully rely on transit to get them where they need to go on time. We’ve seen that On-Time Performance has been down over the last few months, which is particularly problematic without timed connections. “Transfer Opportunities” can quickly turn into a missed train when connections aren’t held even when an incoming train was delayed. Few things are worse than pulling into Jamaica as your connecting train home pulls out, especially when the next one can be an hour or more away. Please, reinstate timed connections.

Up North, we’re glad to see that New York State DOT is funding a grant to improve connectivity to Metro-North stations. And with Bee-Line buses fare-free through the new year, first and last mile options to get riders to and from trains are improving— these local transit options will get drivers out of cars and onto transit.

On both railroads, commutation ticket sales with weekly and monthly tickets has plummeted post-pandemic, while non-commutation ticket purchases have soared. Commuting patterns have changed, and that means riders need more ticket options with greater flexibility. With the elimination of the 20-trip ticket this summer, there currently is no peak per-trip ticket sold at a discount. PCAC has proposed developing a discounted 10-trip peak ticket to replace that loss while being responsive to the direction riders are headed in.

As we gear up for congestion pricing, it’s particularly important to offer innovative and affordable fares—that should include a weekly CityTicket with transfers to subways and buses, Fair Fares on the commuter railroads, and extending the senior and disability reduced fare to include the morning peak.

Now is the time to get riders excited about transit before congestion pricing begins. Thank you.