Good morning, I am Lisa Daglian, Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, PCAC. It is a real pleasure to be here today to testify at the first in-person Joint Long Island Rail Road/Metro-North Railroad Committee Meeting in more than a year. Welcome to new Board members Gerry Bringmann, who we also know as PCAC chair and chair of the LIRR Commuter Council, and to Commissioner Porr.
Today I am testifying on behalf of the LIRRCC and MNRCC. As the official voices of LIRR and Metro-North commuters, we urge both railroads to implement a pilot program of discounted 20-trip tickets with longer expiration dates – including during peak hours, when that collection resumes – to supplement or even replace traditional monthly tickets. We understand you are considering these types of tickets and recommend expedient action.
As we enter the next normal, it is critical to get riders back on board. Creative and flexible ticketing will better reflect the changing way we work and travel. With fewer people commuting Monday to Friday – and with these patterns anticipated to continue into the coming years – adapting to address rider needs will help the railroads recover from pandemic-related economic losses.
Per Newsday, monthly LIRR sales fell by 85-percent over the last two years, coinciding with fewer people commuting five days a week and with the implementation of off-peak fares, which we support keeping in place. Correspondingly, sales of Metro-North monthly tickets fell 89.5-percent over the same period.
Comprehensive and long-term commuter rail discounts are needed now more than ever. We strongly support larger scale reduced fare strategies, as we will detail in our forthcoming Freedom Ticket Phase 2 proposal. We’ll continue to work with you to progress those concepts.
Getting commuter rail riders back on board and out of their cars will be critical to our region’s health and economy. Offering options like discounted 20 trip tickets with longer expiration times and implementing new Freedom Ticket recommendations will provide an incentive for them do just that.