Cuomo: Reduce LIRR Fares for 'Summer of Hell' Riders

In anticipation of the so-called "summer of hell," Governor Andrew Cuomo is asking the MTA to reduce fares for LIRR riders affected by track work at Penn Station. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

Commuters at Penn Station are bracing for the misery that awaits them once Amtrak begins track repairs at the troubled transit hub.

"It will be a summer of hell," Governor Andrew Cuomo said on May 25.

But it's one that likely will come at a reduced rate for some Long Island Rail Road riders. 

"Some people need to take diverted trains. I think the Long Island Rail Road should consider reducing the fares on those diverted trains," Cuomo said. "That's only fair to the people who are taking those trains."

The MTA last week revised the LIRR's schedule as of July 10 to accommodate the track work. 

Cuomo's proposal would cut the fare on 14 trains every weekday that will end or begin their trips at Hunters Point in Queens and Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn instead of at Penn Station.

The MTA, a state agency that answers to Cuomo and runs the LIRR, quickly said that it intends to "follow the governor's lead and make sure our riders are fairly compensated."

The sudden shift comes after the MTA was criticized for not including discounted fares for Long Island Rail Road riders in its initial summer service plan, unlike New Jersey Transit.

Advocates say riders have other problems to contend with beyond fares.

"It will help service this summer as far as getting to and from work. However, what it will not do is fix the problems that we actually have," said Mark Epstein, chair of the LIRR Commuters Council. "None of the work this summer will be regarding any of these switch or signal problems."

Riders said a discount is the least the MTA can do. 

"Until the service is improved and the trains are running normally and they're reliable, I think the rates should go down," said one rider.

"We really, really, really would need good service on the trains, especially people that need to commute to the city every day," said another. "The train and the monthly fares aren't cheap. We're talking about $400 plus monthly fares."

Cuomo said the discount would target commuters with monthly and weekly passes.

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