City Council proposes half-priced MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers

April 5, 2017

Although the recent subway and bus fare hike affects all New Yorkers, low-income residents are being especially hard hit by the jump in cost. As a way to ease this financial burden, the City Council has proposed a $50 million pilot program as part of the “Fair Fares” initiative which will provide half-fare MetroCards to New Yorkers living at or below the federal poverty line. As the Daily News learned, transit advocates say nearly 800,000 residents would be eligible for the discount under the full plan.

Riders Alliance, NYC subway, Fair Fares
Photo via Riders Alliance

Under the pilot program, the discounted MetroCard subsidy would be limited to CUNY students and veterans who live at the poverty line. The council also proposed publicly funding Citi Bike by providing $12 million to bring the service to parts of the Bronx, Upper Manhattan and Staten Island. This could potentially provide another 2,000 bikes per year, at $6,000 each. Citi Bike is privately funded by Motivate, a company that manages all major bike-sharing services in the country.

While transit and anti-poverty advocates, such as the Riders Alliance and the Community Service Society, have pushed NY pols to support half-priced MetroCards, Mayor de Blasio has said the discount would be too expensive for the city. The mayor also said it’s the state’s responsibility to pay for this proposal, as Governor Cuomo oversees the MTA. Freddi Goldstein, a spokeswoman for de Blasio, reiterated: “This pilot program, like the original proposal, is a noble one, but the mayor has been very clear: the MTA is the responsibility of the state and they should consider funding the program.”

In February, the MTA agreed to roll out the initiative, “Freedom Ticket,” which would connect bus, subway and Long Island Rail Road Service within NYC under one ticket. This could make travel more efficient and affordable for those living in transit deserts in Brooklyn and Queens. The program is still being studied, so no timeline has been set for its implementation.

[Via NY Daily News]


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