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MTA will launch 'Freedom Ticket' to connect subway, bus, and LIRR

It'll be available on limited LIRR lines this year

The Atlantic Terminal LIRR station in Brooklyn.

In an effort to make commuting between the Long Island Railroad and New York City transit an easier affair, MTA chairman Joe Lhota expects to launch a pilot program this year to make transferring between bus, subway, and LIRR service possible under one ticket.

According to amNew York, the transit pass will be known as the Freedom Ticket. It'll allow riders to transfer seamlessly between the LIRR and the city’s bus and subway system. The idea is to cut commuting times "while also tapping into underutilized, more expensive LIRR service," amNew York says.

The pilot was supposed to launch last fall, then was pushed back to allow the MTA to prepare for Amtrak renewal work at Penn Station as well as Lhota’s Subway Action Plan, announced as complaints about the crumbling transit system reached a fever pitch.

Though there's no exact launch date for the Freedom Ticket, Lhota told state lawmakers in Albany, while testifying on the MTA’s budget this week, "I fully expect it to happen this year."

Once it begins, the Freedom Ticket test will be implemented only at certain LIRR stations, mostly along the Atlantic Branch. That includes Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal, East New York, and Nostrand Avenue stations, as well as Queens’ Laurelton, Locust Manor, Rosedale, and St. Albans stations.

The ticket will allow riders to buy one-way tickets, weekly, or monthly passes valid for both subway and LIRR trains. While fares will be more expensive than MetroCards, they'll likely be cheaper than purchasing both an LIRR ticket and a MetroCard. It's also designed to help those with limited subway access in transit deserts like southeast Queens and Brooklyn.

Lhotta wants to test the ticket on a limited basis before it's available for the full LIRR system. "It’s very important to be able to do [a pilot] to understand how habits change; how many people use it; how do we adjust it accordingly before anything is rolled out larger,” he said this week.