RONKONKOMA - Now that the trains are back on track after a blizzard walloped the area, commuters can expect to pay more today for the LIRR, subways, buses and MTA bridges and tunnels.

The cost of riding the city's subways, buses and commuter rails increased for the third time in three years and comes just months after severe cuts to service. The latest hike comes ahead of another planned hike in 2013. Tolls also went up at the MTA's bridges and tunnels. The increases are helping the nation's largest transit agency close a huge budget gap. The MTA's new fares kicked in even as plows criss-crossed the city, still working to remove snow that had slowed or stopped subway service for days and left nearly 50 public buses stuck on roads.

The Long Island Rail Road reported a near-regular schedule. Bus service replaced LIRR trains headed to Long Island's far eastern North Fork.

As restoration of full service inched closer, the increase went into effect. On Thursday, a single-ride ticket rose by 25 cents to $2.50, and the monthly unlimited MetroCards by $15 to $104, from the previous $89. An unlimited weekly pass increased from $27 to $29. However, the per-ride cost remained $2.25 if purchased through a MetroCard.

MTA Chairman Jay Walder said the fare increase "has been planned for six months and it has to go forward at this point." He said it was "fundamental" to balancing the agency's budget.

AP wire contributed to this report.

LIRR declares system back in operation

LIRR Information