Today’s news:

LIRR makes changes in the fine print along with fare hike

The Long Island Rail Road has accompanied its 2011 fare increases with an array of new conditions and restrictions on everything from when tickets expire to refund policy.

Both the LIRR, Metro-North Railroad and New York City Transit Authority as well as Metropolitan Transportation Authority-operated tunnels and bridges increased fares and tolls Dec. 30 in an effort to close a $900 million budget gap.

Most commuter rail fares increased from 7.6 percent to 9.4 percent, depending on ticket type and distance.

On the LIRR, one-way and round-trip tickets bought after Dec. 30 are valid for 14 days, including the date of sale, rather than six months, which was the previous limit.

Ten-trip tickets are good for six months from date of sale, down from one year.

One-way and round-trip tickets bought before Dec. 30 are good for six months from date of sale and 10-trip tickets purchased prior to Dec. 30 are good for one year from date of sale.

As for the LIRR’s refund policy, a $10 refund processing fee will be charged for each refund for all tickets bought on or after Dec. 30.

Unused one-way and round-trip tickets valid for 14 days including date of sale can be refunded for 30 days from date of sale.

Unused or partially used 10-trip tickets can be refunded for 30 days from date of sale. They were previously valid for six months from date of sale.

No tickets will be refunded after 30 days from date of sale.

All refund requests will be processed through the LIRR Ticket Refund office, but tickets may be surrendered at staffed ticket offices where customers will be asked to fill out a form.

One-way, round-trip and 10-trip tickets purchased Dec. 30 or later may only be exchanged at the ticket window within 24 hours from date of sale.

Beginning Dec. 30, only one-way tickets will be sold aboard trains. Round-trip tickets will no longer be sold on board.

Step-up fees and extension of ride fees have been rounded up to the nearest dollar.

Certain types of MetroCards used on New York City Transit buses and subway trains are also subject to similar time limits on validity.

The one-day — no longer sold — Fun Pass is valid until Jan. 10. The seven-day Unlimited Ride MetroCard is valid until Jan. 15. It must be activated by Jan. 10 to get a full seven days of unlimited rides.

The 14-day Unlimited Ride MetroCard — no longer available — is valid until Jan. 23. It must be activated by Jan. 10 to get a full 14 days of unlimited rides.

The 30-day Unlimited Ride MetroCard is valid until Feb. 8 and must be activated by Jan. 10 to get a full 30 days of unlimited rides.

For unused Unlimited Ride MetroCards purchased before the Dec. 30 fare increase, refunds will be made at the purchase price. For partially used Unlimited Ride MetroCards purchased prior to the Dec. 30 fare increase, refunds will be made on a pro-rated basis.

Ask for a postage-paid envelope from your bus operator or at your subway station booth or download a questionnaire at mta.info and mail it to the MTA with your card. Postage will be required.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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