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MTA Approves Commuter Rail Discounts for the Bronx and Queens and More Express Bus Service for Brooklyn and Staten Island

Updated April 30, 2024 12:45 p.m.

Programs Designed to Attract More Transit Riders When Congestion Pricing Takes Effect


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board today approved pilot programs to make transit an even more attractive option as congestion pricing launches in June. The first program is to increase service frequency on six popular express bus routes from Brooklyn and Staten Island to the Congestion Relief Zone in Manhattan; the second is to offer a 10% reduction on the price of monthly commuter rail tickets within New York City. Both programs are designed to appeal to people in the outer boroughs who might consider switching to transit from driving into the Manhattan Central Business District.  

The programs are funded by the Outer Borough Transportation Account, created in 2018 by the New York State Legislature to provide $50 million per year to improve transportation in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island in association with congestion pricing.

The express bus route service increases will begin on June 30 and were strategically selected to grow ridership. They cover peak period service on the BM2, BM5, SIM1C, SIM4C, SIM23 and SIM24. (Click the links for maps of each route.)

The commuter rail monthly ticket discounts would begin in July. They come on top of existing 10% discounts put in place systemwide on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad in March 2022 to encourage post-pandemic ridership recovery. They complement the expansion of City Ticket – highly discounted one-way tickets valid for travel within New York City – from weekend-only to all off-peak trains in March 2022 and to peak trains in August 2023 to boost travel within New York City on the railroads.

“Building on the best subway service in decades and historic on-time performance on Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road, now the MTA is taking another big step by increasing frequency on express buses and expanding commuter rail affordability,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “These are the kinds of investments outer borough commuters want to see, and the State Legislature understands that – as proven by this year’s budget.”

“In order for the Congestion Pricing Plan to truly reach its full potential, all New Yorkers must have efficient and cost-effective alternatives for their commutes to and from Manhattan’s Congestion Relief Zone,” said Congressman Dan Goldman. “I appreciate that the MTA has heeded my call to increase service frequency on express bus routes from my district in Brooklyn to Manhattan and reduce commuter rail prices. By lowering the obstacles to using our transit system, the MTA is paving the way for Congestion Pricing to begin and ensuring that the infrastructure millions of New York City commuters rely on daily can receive the improvements it needs.”

"I am proud to have successfully advocated for the infusion of public transit funds we recently secured," said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. "These investments will improve mobility for those commuting and increase ease of access for people traveling across New York.”

“Improving the frequency and reliability of our public transportation is the best way to reduce congestion and get more New Yorkers out of their cars and into the buses and trains,” said State Senator John Liu, Member of the Transportation Committee. “Our express buses and LIRR are essential for travel across borough lines, especially in Queens and the outer boroughs, where options are extremely limited. The state legislature fought long and hard to secure these investments, and I’m grateful to my colleagues for making improvements to outer borough transportation a priority in the state budget.”

“Queens and other areas of New York have suffered from inadequate transit service for far too long, which is why my colleagues in the legislature, and I have been fighting tooth and nail to secure funding for major improvements in the system,” said Senator Leroy Comrie. “By boosting the frequency of express buses we're establishing faster and more reliable service from the outer boroughs into Manhattan; moreover, additional fare reductions on top of existing 10% discounts on commuter rails will make them an even more attractive and feasible option for hard-working New Yorkers. We look forward to the MTA doing even more in the near future to increase affordability, accessibility and utility of our public transit systems.”

"I fully support the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) pilot programs to provide alternatives to driving into Manhattan post-congestion pricing,” said Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz. “These initiatives include a 10% reduction in commuter rail ticket prices and increased peak service on 21 express bus routes, funded by the Outer Borough Transportation Account. They signify a crucial investment in improving transportation infrastructure across the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, incentivizing rail and bus ridership to alleviate road congestion and prioritize public transit users. Starting in July, the proposed commuter rail discounts complement existing efforts to boost post-pandemic ridership, while the expansion of City Ticket enhances commuter accessibility and affordability. I commend the MTA's proactive approach and anticipate positive impacts on our city's mobility."

"A key component of making congestion pricing effective is to improve and increase transit options for commuters,” said Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi. “I look forward to continued investments that will mbenefit our communities."

“Representing a district often labeled as a transportation desert with a significant reliance on automobiles, I have been at the forefront of efforts to improve transportation accessibility and alleviate congestion in New York City,” said Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman. “The enhanced express bus service from Brooklyn and Staten Island and an additional 10% discount on monthly rail tickets at stations in Southeast Queens including Rosedale, Laurelton, Hollis and St. Albans, are in harmony with the mission of the Outer Borough Transportation Account, which earmarks $50 million annually to enhance transportation options in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, particularly in conjunction with congestion pricing.”

“As a Council Member deeply committed to enhancing transit accessibility and reducing congestion, I wholeheartedly support the MTA's initiative to introduce commuter rail discounts and enhance express bus services for Brooklyn and Staten Island,” said Council Member Rita Joseph. “These pilot programs are not only a strategic response to the impending implementation of Congestion Pricing but also a proactive step towards incentivizing more sustainable transportation choices. By making transit more affordable and convenient, we are not just alleviating traffic congestion; we are fostering a greener, more connected city for all residents. I urge my fellow New Yorkers to embrace these initiatives and join us in shaping a brighter, more efficient future for our transit system.” 

“Congestion pricing is poised to transform transportation in our city – creating a steady flow of investment into our public transit, encouraging greener options, and improving the safety of our streets. By boosting the frequency of our buses and the affordability of our commuter rail options, the MTA is helping our city deliver the maximum benefits of congestion pricing,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “Thank you to the MTA for championing these programs.”

The LIRR has 24 stations in Brooklyn and Queens, and Metro-North has 13 stations in the Bronx, as well as a stop in Harlem. CityTicket will also be valid for travel to and from Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station. Metro-North service will expand to the East Bronx following the completion of Penn Station Access, which will add four new Metro-North stations at Hunts Point, Parkchester/Van Nest, Morris Park, and Co-Op City. Governor Hochul and MTA leadership broke ground on the project in December 2022.

The MTA estimates the cost of the 10% discount to monthly tickets will be $4 million per year, and the cost of the enhanced express bus service will be $883,000 per year. These costs will be totally paid for by the Outer Borough Transportation Account, which is also funding toll rebates announced by Governor Kathy Hochul in 2023 for Bronx residents who use the Henry Hudson Bridge and Queens residents who use the Cross Bay Bridge.