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MTA Joint LIRR and Metro-North Committee Testimony-“It’s Time to OMNYvate Around the Region”

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

First, we’re excited to welcome new Acting LIRR President Rob Free and look forward to continuing to work together. We’re happy that Cathy Rinaldi will continue to offer guidance on best practices across the two railroads and hope to see increased cooperation and standardization between Metro-North and the LIRR. We also want to thank the Metro-North workers who got service up and running after mudslides this weekend.

With Metro-North and the LIRR under one roof, riders can finally transfer between all of the MTA’s modes—but it’s time for fare policy to make it easier and more seamless for them to do so.

While we’re not happy that OMNY rollout to the railroads has been delayed, the extra time presents a golden opportunity to rethink how fares and ticketing work around the region.

PCAC recently released a report, entitled Integrate, Simplify, and OMNYvate, on ways the MTA can best use OMNY rollout to create a more equitable, integrated, and accessible transit network.

While progress has been made to better connect the railroads, their fare systems still operate separately and differently from one another, which is confusing for riders.

Some key recommendations that can be implemented both before and throughout OMNY rollout include:

  • creating a weekly CityTicket with transfers to subways and buses, starting with a feasibility and field study in 2024;
  • ensuring that riders are always charged the best fare available and automatically applying discounts;
  • standardizing and expanding discounts, including developing a discounted 10-trip peak ticket to replace the loss of the 20-trip, and ensuring that senior and disabled fares apply to all tickets;
  • bringing Fair Fares to the LIRR and Metro-North and expanding eligibility;
  • expanding OMNY to other regional transit and micromobility providers;
  • expanding transfer options around the system; and
  • eventually, creating a common cost-per-mile for fares across the LIRR and Metro-North to better unify the MTA region.

Installing OMNY without improving and simplifying fares would be a missed opportunity. If we can’t have through-running, let’s at least do through-ticketing. A more integrated transit system is possible, and now is the time to rethink fares and ticketing so that OMNY can live up to its name: One Metro New York. Thank you.