200,000 more New Yorkers now eligible for half-priced MetroCards

July 1, 2024

Nearly 200,000 additional New Yorkers will be eligible for the city’s half-priced transit fare program. Mayor Eric Adams and the City Council on Friday agreed to a $112.4 billion budget deal for fiscal year 2025, which adds $10.7 million in baseline funds for the Fair Fares program and increases the program’s eligibility from 120 percent to 145 percent of the federal poverty level. The deal marks the biggest expansion of the Fair Fares program since it launched in 2019, with the entire eligible population now over one million New Yorkers.

The city-funded Fair Fares program launched in 2019 and provides discounted subway, bus, and Access-A-Ride fares to New Yorkers with incomes at or below the federal poverty level. Last year, the Adams administration increased eligibility for the program to 120 percent from 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). Nearly 336,000 New Yorkers are currently enrolled in the program, according to the city, roughly a third of those eligible for the program.

Under the new budget, individuals between the ages of 18 and 64 who make no more than $21,837 annually are eligible for the program; for a family of four, the income threshold is $45,420 annually.

While the expansion falls short of the 200 percent threshold pushed for by advocates and the City Council, an additional 200,000 adult New Yorkers will be eligible to receive the discounted MetroCard.

According to the Community Service Society of New York, the nonprofit that advocated for the expansion, the new income threshold will bring the total eligible population to over one million. Based on the assumption that 40 percent of the new program recipients are commuters, the expansion will result in 80,000 additional people enrolled.

“This expansion is great news for New Yorkers who remain unable to access our city’s mass transit as the gateway to economic opportunity because they simply cannot afford the fare,” the Community Service Society said in a statement.

After applying for the program, applicants can expect a 30-day review period before receiving approval. Once approved, they will receive a Fair Fares MetroCard, valid for one year. This card can be reloaded with value or time, as with a regular MetroCard.

When adding time, users pay only half the price. If adding value, the full price is charged, but each fare will deduct only half the price of a ride.

The threshold was raised from 100 percent to 120 percent in late 2023 after Mayor Eric Adams announced a $200 million investment to expand Fair Fares.

In May, the MTA launched a Fair Fares pilot program on OMNY, allowing commuters enrolled in the program to use the contactless payment system. The 90-day program enlisted 50 Fair Fares riders and the transit agency is currently collecting feedback and finalizing a rollout for all qualifying customers at a later date.

The transit agency hopes to expand the program to all Fair Fares participants by the end of the year, including grade school students, NYC Transit President Richard Davey told Streetsblog.

You can apply and learn more about Fair Fares here.


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Tags: MTA

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  1. S

    I’m glad they are adding more people. I have the card but when you are sent a new one because the old is expired. Your money is locked on the old card & you cannot switch it over. I have about $15 left on my old card & can’t get to it. That’s wasteful. Fix it.

  2. S

    When can I start applying with the new increase?