Did you know that New Yorkers have some of the longest commutes in the nation?
Out of the 30 largest metropolitan areas, New York City is the only city where average weekly commutes exceed five hours, according to New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. New Yorkers on average, commute 6 hours and 18 minutes every week. This problem is even more apparent in outer boroughs neighborhoods like in Southeast Queens, where weekly commutes can consume over eight hours; about a third above the average for the City.
Although New York City Transit’s subway system is massive, there are still places it doesn’t reach including the neighborhoods of SE Queens. Just getting to work or school can be a chore, because getting into Manhattan often requires multiple combinations of transit all of which have different fare structures and payment methods.
New York City Transit Riders Council releases Freedom Ticket Report
On Wednesday, December 2, the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) proposed a solution to outer borough commuting woes in its new report, The Freedom Ticket: Southeast Queens Proof of Concept.
The Freedom Ticket, as the name implies, would give commuters the freedom to use any MTA mode that meets their needs, be it bus, subway, or commuter rail within the City at one universal price.
A financial partnership between the City of New York and the MTA is required for Freedom Ticket’s success.
As has become painful apparent in the past few months as the MTA fought for passage of its Capital Program, the MTA struggles financially to provide service to nearly 8 million riders every day. Therefore, a financial partnership is key in providing Freedom Ticket to areas of the city where the subway is difficult to reach and where commuter rail is available, but priced out of the hands of many.
The Proof of Concept would allow commuters to use the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), which has six stations in SE Queens, at a cheaper price.
The reduced fares would make the railroads more accessible, which would drastically reduce travel times for commuters in transit-underserved SE Queens.
Currently, if SE Queens commuters want to take LIRR to reduce travel times, they have to purchase tickets for both LIRR and the NYC Transit. If they are buying monthly passes for both this option runs $334.50 a month making this option prohibitively expensive for most. Instead many choose cheaper and often longer travel time options such as connecting to the subway system by local buses or commuter vans. The maximum price of a Freedom Ticket monthly pass would be $215, saving riders over $100 in addition to the substantial time savings.
Just as an example of how much time you could save, we did a quick calculation of when you would have to leave in the morning if you lived in Rosedale and worked around Grand Central.
What would you do if you had an extra 20, 40, or even close to 60 minutes in the morning?
Over 20,000 empty LIRR seats pass through SE Queens during both peak periods.
By reducing the current cost of a LIRR ticket in the city limits, city riders could be attracted to fill those seats. Travel times of those city riders could be reduced by 45 percent and the MTA could fill non-revenue producing seats.
LIRR is an underutilized asset running through the backyards of SE Queens.
Residents of SE Queens endure some of the longest travel times in the nation.
New subway lines are not getting built any time soon in SE Queens. But they don’t have to be because we are not fully utilizing our current assets. New York is a city that everyone wants to live in and as a consequence, population is booming. Because our subway system does not cover all parts of the city and is becoming increasingly overcrowded, we must find innovative and efficient solutions to move our growing population around. One advantage of the MTA network is commuter rail which could help make up for the deficiencies in our subway system. Now is the time to strengthen that network.
We would like to hear your thoughts on this crucial matter!
Are you a city resident far from subway service and near a commuter rail station?
Would you use the commuter railroads if it were cheaper and could get you to your destination faster?
Tell us what you think!
Plus, here are links to our full report and various media articles regarding the report…enjoy!
Freedom Ticket Report: Freedom Ticket
Freedom Ticket in the media: Freedom Ticket in the media