The New York City Transit Riders Council’s (NYCTRC) Freedom Ticket proposal to lower city commuter rail fares spawned the popular Atlantic Ticket Field Study. Atlantic Ticket operates at ten LIRR stations in Southeast Queens and Brooklyn for travel to and from Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal. The one-way fare is just $5 ($10.25 compared with before its implementation), and the weekly at just $60, which also includes a weekly MetroCard for transfers to subways and buses. The program discounts fares by as much as 51% and has drastically reduced some 2+ hour commutes down to just 45 minutes.
Riders need options, like those embodied in the Freedom Ticket model.
Atlantic Ticket has paved the way for equitable fares in far-flung areas of the city for riders who are priced out of commuter rail service and don’t live close to subways. This is especially important as fares have recently risen and much-needed congestion pricing is on the horizon, which should encourage more people to leave their cars at home and take transit.
Since its June 6, 2018 launch, Atlantic Ticket has increased daily ridership at Atlantic Terminal by 5%, providing much needed revenue along a corridor that was operating trains that were running more than half empty during peak hours – getting more out of an underutilized asset. From what we understand, over 870,000 tickets have been purchased, and that number is continuing to grow – now at about 20,000 tickets sold per week.
Applying the Freedom Ticket model to other areas of the city.
With this success, the NYCTRC is looking beyond Atlantic Ticket to address commuting needs elsewhere in the MTA region to include Bronx stations along the Metro-North Railroad (MNR). Meanwhile, current capacity constraints going in and out of Penn Station during peak hours has made this concept challenging, but once the effects of all the proposed new fare payment discounts agreed to as part of Congestion Pricing are understood, and once East Side Access (ESA) is complete and the East River tunnels are repaired, a Freedom Ticket type fare structure to Penn Station LIRR must be studied and considered; its implementation will be made easier with the new OMNY fare payment system. Until then, applying the Freedom Ticket model to the Bronx for MNR riders will help make for faster and more affordable commutes.