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MTA Joint LIRR and Metro-North Committee Testimony-“Lowering Emissions by Responding to Rider Concerns”

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

It’s officially climate week, and what better way to start than with more ridership milestones?  We’re always thrilled when more people are riding transit around the region and into the city, lowering emissions and easing congestion. That’s particularly important on a gridlock alert day like today.

But to make sure that riders stick with transit instead of driving, it’s important that service adapts and responds to their needs. We’re glad that some key changes that riders have been calling for were addressed with the LIRR’s September 5th schedule revision, including more direct service to Atlantic Terminal from Long Island in the morning rush hour, swapping some trains originating and terminating at Grand Central to Penn Station, and removing some local stops from peak hour trains. These are issues that have been raised time and time again since the February service overhaul, and we do appreciate that improvements were made where possible.

But it’s clear that issues still remain, and we continue to hear rider complaints since the September adjustments. Some commuters, particularly on the West Hempstead and Long Beach lines, who used to have direct trains to Atlantic Terminal now have a transfer, even as other trains now run direct to Brooklyn. Where there once was direct service on the way home, there is now a transfer. The loss of timed connections makes the need to change trains so much worse. Missing your connecting train by even a minute can drastically extend commute time, particularly when headed East. Please, reinstate timed connections.

We have heard great feedback from riders who use the new peak CityTicket and Far Rockaway Ticket. These intra-city fare options are vital to helping people access the commuter rail lines that run through their backyards, and the faster trips that come with them. One way to get even more riders to use the railroads would be an intra-city Combo Ticket, so that city riders could travel between the LIRR and Metro-North on one ticket at a lower fare. Stay tuned for more of our fare policy recommendations in the coming weeks.

Thank you.