Rally calls on MTA to offer Bronx commuters discounted rates with "Freedom" ticket

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Tuesday, December 14, 2021
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Marcus Solis has more on the rally to give commuters more options to pay fares.

FORDHAM, Bronx (WABC) -- A rally in the Bronx Monday pushed to give commuters more options to pay fares, including a discounted rate for Metro North tickets.

Making sure she can pick up her son from school on time costs Tatiana Ricardo extra.

She rides Metro North instead of the subway to get from Penn Station to Fordham in just 19 minutes. Then she has to pay for the bus ride home.

"It's $7.25 the Metro North, then over here I gotta take the bus so it's $2.75. So imagine that in a week, it's a lot," Ricardo said.

Which is why elected officials and transit advocates are calling on the MTA to offer Bronx commuters a so-called "Freedom" ticket.

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It would allow access to Metro North at a discounted rate and provide free subway or bus transfers.

"There's no reason why people who live in Connecticut or in other states outside of New York have a faster commute and a proportionately more accessible commute to New York City than people right here within the city," Bronx assembly member Kenny Burgos said.

"We have this wonderful rail infrastructure running through neighborhoods but it's priced at a premium and it's not affordable to a lot of the neighborhood residents ... that's ridiculous," MTA board member Andrew Albert said.

The MTA has an existing Atlantic ticket option in southeast Queens providing riders with discounted LIRR access.

Advocates say expanding the concept citywide would be a win-win: providing residents with a shorter commute while giving the agency a financial boost since Metro north ridership is still below pre-pandemic levels.

"This is about achieving the equity and the fairness and the justice that we rightfully deserve in the Bronx," Bronx Borough President-elect Vanessa Gibson said.

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The MTA board will vote Wednesday on a similar program called city ticket.

It will offer discounted Metro North fares during off peak hours only with no free transfer.

Proponents of Freedom ticket say it doesn't go far enough.

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