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“Freedom Ticket” Could Reduce Costs And
Expand Transit Options For Brooklyn Riders

By on February 3, 2016

BROOKLYN, NY: Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams recently led a coalition of local elected officials to call on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to initiate a pilot program for the proposed “Freedom Ticket,” which would allow commuters to pay a single fare for travel within New York City on MTA subways and LIRR trains. The plan would include trips between the Atlantic Terminal and East New York stations on the LIRR’s Atlantic Branch, inclusive of the Nostrand Avenue station. In their letter to MTA Chair Thomas Prendergast, Borough President Adams and others explained that the proposal, developed by the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC), should be piloted in Brooklyn to help reduce costs and expand transit options for riders who live and work along the Atlantic Branch corridor, a population that may be expanding pending the City’s proposed East New York Community Plan and will be impacted by service disruptions resulting from planned repairs to the L train’s Canarsie Tube.

“In Brooklyn, the ‘Freedom Ticket’ presents an opportunity to support neighborhood growth and development in East New York,” wrote Borough President Adams. “We believe that the ‘Freedom Ticket’ program could be a significant asset in mitigating strain on the existing subway system while also providing residents in the East New York area an affordable option to ride the LIRR to Atlantic Terminal.”

The “Freedom Ticket” would allow riders to purchase a single one-way ticket or a weekly or monthly pass valid for travel on both the subway and railroad trains for less than the price of tickets and passes for both. Borough President Adams noted that this program would build on the CityTicket pilot, which established a reduced fare on weekends within city limits on LIRR and Metro-North trains; in his Strategic Policy Statement released last year, he called for the expansion of this effort. According to MTA statistics, there are more than 9,300 seats left empty on westbound Atlantic Branch trains during morning peak hours. Borough President Adams suggested that the “Freedom Ticket” would incentivize LIRR usage in a way that reduces overcrowding on nearby subway lines.

Borough President Adams was joined on his letter to Chair Prendergast by State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan; Assembly Members Walter T. Mosley, Annette M. Robinson, and Latrice M. Walker; as well as Council Members Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., Laurie A. Cumbo, and Rafael L. Espinal, Jr.

“‘Freedom Ticket’ will provide ease of access through affordability and commuting alternatives,” said State Senator Dilan. “It’s a smart proposal that makes full use of our above and below ground system to the benefit of the transit system as a whole and the ridership.”

“I am in full support of the ‘Freedom Ticket’ program,” said Assembly Member Robinson. “The ‘Freedom Ticket’ will provide riders with an affordable way to travel across the city while helping to reduce overcrowding on the MTA lines.”

“Residents of Brownsville, Ocean Hill, and East New York will benefit substantially from the ‘Freedom Ticket,’ which will allow for improved access to Downtown Brooklyn, Manhattan, and other parts of the city,” said Assembly Member Walker. “I commend Borough President Adams and my fellow elected officials for their commitment to riders who have often been underserved.”

“I support the ‘Freedom Ticket,’ both to reduce costs for commuters and to increase community benefits associated with the Nostrand Avenue LIRR station in Bedford-Stuyvesant,” said Council Member Cornegy. “This change would permit commuters to disembark, explore local restaurants and other venues, and continue their journey using our excellent subway options. This is a win-win for our community and travelers, and I’m committed to seeing it become a reality.”

“As the population of Brooklyn continues to grow, we must begin to assess our current transportation infrastructure and its ability to meet the increasing public demand,” said Council Member Cumbo. “The ‘Freedom Ticket’ is a time-efficient and cost-effective way for New Yorkers to use our city’s transit system – particularly the LIRR – during their daily commutes. Additionally, the increased transit options will make several neighborhoods more accessible to New Yorkers and boost economic development.”

“It’s no secret that our subway lines are strained by increasing ridership, and with the Mayor’s proposal to bring more affordable housing — and more people — into East New York, we must think of alternatives for efficient and affordable commuting,” said Council Member Espinal. “The LIRR is a great option for those who live in East New York, but the price of a ticket combined with the additional subway fare, creates an option that is just out of reach for much of the community. Implementing the ‘Freedom Ticket’ proposal will expand the transit options for those who live along the LIRR, allowing more residents to quickly and affordably commute to and from work while reducing the strain on the MTA. I’m hopeful that the agencies involved can work together over the coming months to get this done.”

“We appreciate Borough President Adams’s support for the ‘Freedom Ticket’ proposal,” said William Henderson, executive director of the NYCTRC. “Currently unused seats on existing commuter rail trains represent a valuable resource. We can use these seats to provide additional transportation options to our city, supporting the development of City neighborhoods, providing relief to transportation deserts, and relieving strains on an increasingly burdened subway system. Implementing Freedom Ticket will require cooperation between the MTA, the City, and numerous stakeholders, and we look forward to working with Borough President Adams to advance this proposal.”

Office of Brooklyn Borough President Adams