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Mayor debuts rail discounts with CityTicket price deals

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the Bayside Long Island Rail Road station Tuesday to announce the introduction of the CityTicket, a new low-price fare for weekend travel on the Long Island Rail Road or Metro-North Railroad within the five boroughs.

Starting Saturday, travelers from the far reaches of Queens can get to Manhattan on the LIRR in 25 minutes for just $2.50 one-way on Saturdays and Sundays, a relative steal compared with the regular off-peak price of $4.75.

“It is fast, it is comfortable,” said Bloomberg, who joined Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Peter Kalikow and other MTA board members at a news conference in the Bayside LIRR station house. “This is a very good deal (for) everyone.”

Travelers all over the borough can take advantage of the new fare at LIRR stations from Woodside to Forest Hills to Jamaica.

Bloomberg compared the commute from Bayside to Manhattan via bus and subway, which would cost $2 and take over an hour, to the 25-minute ride on the LIRR that would cost a mere 50 cents more on weekends.

“If you’re going to go to a Broadway show from Bayside or to a Knicks game, this is the way to do it,” he said.

The new fare is being tested for the next six months as a pilot program, with its continuation hinging on its popularity with riders.

With CityTicket, travelers can ride the LIRR or Metro-North for trips beginning and ending within the five boroughs for the flat fare of $2.50, which represents a round-trip savings of up to $4.50, according to the mayor’s office.

The new ticket is one-way and must be used on the date of purchase. They may not be bought on board a train and there is no free transfer between the trains, subways and buses. The ticket cannot be combined with travel outside the city limits.

“We just hope this is going to be a great success,” said MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow, who joined Bloomberg at the news conference along with other MTA board members.

Kalikow said the pilot program’s success would not be judged on hard and fast numbers of riders, but would be considered among other factors such as whether it alleviated crowding on other forms of mass transit.

Andrew Alpert, chairman of the New York City Transit Riders Council and an MTA board member, called the CityTicket “the best thing to happen to the Bronx and Queens since the elimination of the two-fare zone.”

Rush-hour commuters at the Bayside station were enthusiastic about the discounted fare Tuesday even though they held monthly passes.

“I think it’s a good idea to try to get more people into the city to spend money,” said Baysider Anthony Zupka. “Were I a per-ticket purchaser, I’d love it.”

Bob Lee said his son was likely to use the CityTicket.

“To get into Bayside from Manhattan for $2.50 is a pretty good deal,” he said.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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