MTA 'Freedom Ticket' could make some commutes cheaper

It's a long haul for security guard Richard Smith to get from Rosedale, Queens, to his job in Manhattan via MTA bus and subway. He could take a Long Island Rail Road train and cut his commute in half, but that would cost almost three times more. But Patricia Goodson, who lives in nearby Locust Manor, decided to make that trade-off.

Many New York City residents face this dilemma in parts of southeast Queens and Brooklyn, where access to subway lines is limited.

Andrew Albert, chair of the NYC Transit Riders Council and a non-voting board member of the MTA, says the solution could be in something called the Freedom Ticket, which the MTA has agreed to test out.

As the name implies, the Freedom Ticket would give the commuter the freedom to ride whatever mode of transportation meets their needs in a given area. The ticket would allow unlimited free transfers across LIRR and MTA bus and subway lines for a flat rate. While it hasn't been determined what that rate would be, it would be significantly less than the cost of separate tickets.

Right now, for example, a peak ride from Locust Manor to downtown Manhattan costs nearly $13 each way in combined LIRR and MetroCard fees.

Albert says the LIRR stations expected to participate in the pilot would include Atlantic Terminal, East New York, and Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn; and Locust Manor, Laurelton, Rosedale, and St. Albans in Queens.

The MTA says there is no official timeline for the Freedom Ticket pilot could start, but transit advocates hope it is in place by the fall.