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Boro transit riders decry MTA’s new hike in fares

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Queens residents seemed resigned this week to the new subway, bus and Long Island Rail Road fare hikes put into effect by the Metropolitan Transit Authority and have started figuring out how to pay for the jolt in public transportation fees.

Tammy Benko, a lifetime resident of Forest Hills, uses both the LIRR and subway daily to commute to her job in Manhattan from Queens. She now pays 50 cents more at $3.75 on the LIRR because of the hike in addition to the $2 for the new subway fare. But she said she has no plans to change the way she gets to work.

“What are you going to do? Everything is going up in the city,” she said. “Everything’s going up but the salaries.”

Benko said she sympathizes with commuters who live farther out on Long Island and have been forced to pay higher rates than she on the LIRR. She said her recent discussions with other patrons on trains have focused on how to pay the new ticket prices.

The new fares on the subway, bus and LIRR went into effect May 4. The MTA raised subway and bus rates from $1.50 to $2, the LIRR fares by an average of 25 percent and some bridge and tunnel tolls by 50 cents.

Angela McKenzie, a 14-year-old student who commutes to Forest Hills from Laurelton daily on the LIRR, is now paying double what she used to pay because of the fare hikes — a jump from $2.50 to $5 each way. She said her mother can only give her $20 per day despite the fare hike, meaning she will have less money to spend on other expenses during the day.

McKenzie said, however, that she will not take another route to school and must continue to use the LIRR.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” she said. “It’s just too much money.”

Fonda Miller of Bayside said she takes a hit twice on the new fare hikes because she takes both the LIRR and the Q31 bus. She said her LIRR fare has increased from $2.75 to $3.50 while her bus fee has already risen from $15 to $20 per week.

And since she rides off-peak, there is no monthly pass for her.

“I really don’t know how much longer people are going to live in New York” with all the fare hikes and tax increases, she said.

Katoya Temple, a regular LIRR commuter from Ozone Park to Queens Village, also will face a double increase because she uses both train and subway routes. She said the new fares have not only added to her daily expenses but also forced her to lead a more stressful life.

“I just relocated here from Maryland and I feel like going back,” she said.

Joyce Limones, 19, a student at Queens College who uses the subway at Lefferts Boulevard and Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park, said she must now depend on her parents for money because she cannot afford to pay for the new fares. The Richmond Hill resident said she has been unable to get a job since Sept. 11 and now must rely on her family to survive.

She will, however, continue to use the subway to transport back and forth to school.

Ayala Ben-Yehuda and Alex Ginsberg contributed to this story.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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