MTA’s new Atlantic Ticket is a good idea whose time has finally come

Today’s news that the MTA will pilot the “Atlantic Ticket” a modified version of the “freedom ticket” that RPA and other advocates have been calling for since at least 2008 is welcome news.

The Atlantic Ticket is a half-off transit pass to Atlantic Terminal for riders from nine other LIRR stations in Queens and Brooklyn. The pilot is a smart way give more people in neighborhoods underserved by transit a new, and price-competitive transit option in portions of the system that are right now often underutilized.

The MTA will also offer a weekly pass that encompasses these LIRR stations plus subway and city buses, for approximately half the cost of the current combined weekly pass.

This initiative is especially vital now in the context of the impending L Train shutdown and could become even more useful when East Side Access opens in 2022. It is important for the MTA to carefully monitor the pilot and use data to refine, and hopefully expand the program to additional commuter rail stations within the five boroughs, including Metro North.

RPA first call for such a measure back in 2008, in our report called Tomorrow’s Transit, which encouraged policymakers to explore discounted fares for commuter rail trips within the five borough, especially leveraging the potential of the impending opening of East Side Access. RPA mentions how this policy which would have been extremely challenging to implement in 2008 could be made simple with MTA’s new fare payment system. RPA continued to call for integrated fare measures as part of our Fourth Regional Plan released this November, and detailed further in our Trans-Regional Express (T-Rex) report out this spring.

And along the way many other advocates, policy makers and elected officials have taken up the mantle, including New York City Transit Riders Council which wrote the Freedom Ticket report, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Brooklyn, Borough President Eric Adams as well as significant numbers of City Council, state and federal elected officials from the Brooklyn and Queens delegations.

Transit Center along with Tri-State Transportation Campaign and the Straphangers Campaign authored a report earlier this year about the potential opportunities for MTA’s new fare payment system and included a Freedom Ticket-like policy as well.

The MTA board is set to vote on the pilot at their board meeting tomorrow May 23, 2018. If approved the pilot will begin in June.


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