Aug. 16, 2023 By Bill Parry
After years of legislative wrangling in Albany by elected leaders from southeast Queens, Far Rockaway residents will finally be able to purchase discounted rides on the Long Island Rail Road within Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan under CityTicket beginning Sunday, Aug. 20.
While the program has been available to commuters citywide for two decades, due to the geographic position of Far Rockaway, which is within the city but the LIRR branch travels through Nassau County, so riders that use the Far Rockaway station have not been eligible for the discounted fares.
“The new ticket will make transportation more affordable for everyone at a time when many are striving to make ends meet,” state Senator James Sanders said. “After fighting for equity for CityTicket for a long time, I am very glad we have finally achieved our goal.”
Sanders was joined by his colleagues on Tuesday at the Far Rockaway LIRR station to announce the expansion of CityTicket.
“This successful adaptation of Senator James Sanders’ SO4719 and my bill AO2055 will empower commuters and promote economic growth in Far Rockaway where transportation options are scarce,” Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson said. “I look forward to continuing to address long-standing inequities in public transit for the Rockaways, Assembly District 31, and the rest of southeast Queens.”
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato spoke of her own experience as a LIRR commuter.
“Twenty years ago, I was not an assemblywoman, but I was a person trying to get to work in Brooklyn. And it was quite difficult to get to Brooklyn from Rockaway, but it was very expensive as the choice was the Long Island Rail Road,” she recalled. “So, this is a culmination of all our work, as people who, [like] myself, grew up here, our electeds who have been all part of this coming together, but absolutely having our needs heard, and for the next generation, you never stop going.”
Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers celebrated the expansion of CityTicket to Far Rockaway where riders who were paying $12.50 peak fare will now pay $7 while off-peak will now be $5 down from $9.25.
“For too long, Rockaway residents were deprived of equitable access to the discounted LIRR ticket available to all other New Yorkers for trips within the city,” Brooks-Powers said.
Council Speaker Adrienne Adams applauded the discounted fares.
“The new Far Rockaway Ticket is a welcomed expansion that will open doors of opportunity, shorten commute times, and help local residents travel within New York City,” Adams said. “We will continue to advocate for transit equity in all five boroughs and ensure all New Yorkers can move around our city efficiently.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards called the Far Rockaway Ticket a “great step in the right direction” toward making public transit more affordable.
“Our city is the city of opportunity in every sense of the word — but its opportunities are made possible only if our residents can afford the transportation they need to get to them,” Richards said. “The introduction of the Far Rockaway Ticket is fundamental fairness at work, and is a sign we understand that all city residents should be treated equitably without regard to ZIP Code or socioeconomic status.”
State Senator Leroy Comrie gave credit to MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber for the breakthrough.
“One of the first things I talked to Janno Lieber about and to the MTA was about getting equity for Far Rockaway,” Comrie said. “We now have the highest level of collaboration, the highest level of conversation, and the highest level of determination to make corrections to the system. I’m proud to continue to work with my colleagues in government that continue to make sure that we have more improvements to the MTA system so that we can have transit equity for Queens and that the entire system can be even more customer friendly, so that we can have more people riding transit and less people in cars.”
Lieber said Far Rockaway commuters are among the winners of the new Grand Central Madison, with 13% more daily LIRR train service.
“This has been a long time coming — and it’s made possible by some high-tech engineering by the MTA staff. But it wouldn’t have happened without the passion of our elected partners and transit advocates. Their advocacy had a huge impact.”
The tickets will only be sold at the Far Rockaway station. Customers can buy them on the TrainTime app but must share their location with the app to confirm they are near the station. They will also be available at the station’s vending machines. Tickets are only valid on the day of purchase, but riders can take advantage of the discount on a same-day return trip by buying a round-trip ticket before leaving Far Rockaway.
“Over the last few months, the LIRR has made it more affordable for our customers to travel within New York City, and we are thrilled that our Far Rockaway customers will now be able to travel on LIRR for only $7 during peak hours,” LIRR Interim President Catherine Rinaldi said. “And this September, we will be adding direct service for Far Rockaway customers to Atlantic Terminal as we continue to improve service for our customers in southeast Queens.”