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After facing sharp criticism this week from almost all New York media outlets for missing the January 1st start date of Fair Fares, Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson held a press conference this afternoon to officially launch the program. As of now, the joint initiative will provide half-priced MetroCards to approximately 30,000 low-income New Yorkers who are receiving cash assistance benefits from the Department of Social Services. In April, an estimated additional 130,000 New Yorkers receiving SNAP benefits will be able to apply. But as the Daily News’ City Hall bureau chief Jill Jorgensen mentioned on Twitter, limiting the program to these two groups means that no undocumented residents are eligible to apply.
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A program to provide discounted MetroCards to low-income New Yorkers missed its target start date of Jan. 1, and the city has not provided any concrete details on its rollout, amNY reported Wednesday. The Fair Fares pilot program, which was agreed upon in June by Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, would provide half-price MetroCards for those who fall below the federal poverty line. One day after the original launch date passed, the mayor on Wednesday told reporters that more information on how to apply for the program will be provided “in literally just a few days.”
More on the Fair Fares flop
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Reduced MetroCards are coming to New York City in January, but the discounts only apply to weekly and monthly passes. New details about the Fair Fares program, which was officially included in the city budget in June, were released on Tuesday during an MTA board meeting. According to meeting minutes, the MTA will not be providing single trip discounts when the program kicks off next year. Instead, low-income New Yorkers who are living at or below the federal poverty level, or a household income of $25,000 for a family of four, can buy half-off 7-day or 30-day passes. Find out more
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Mayor Bill de Blasio reached an agreement with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson on a new city budget, the New York Times reports. The $89.2 billion budget includes funding for discounted MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers. 6sqft reported last week on the deal struck between the mayor and the city council to provide about $100 million to fund the program. Johnson has been a tenacious and vocal supporter of the Fair Fares program, in which the city will subsidize the cost of providing half-price MetroCards to New Yorkers who fall below the federal poverty line, or a household income of $25,000 for a family of four. Nearly 800,000 New Yorkers could benefit from the discounted fares. The initial allocation in the budget will pay for six months of the program beginning in January, with further financing will be forthcoming in future budgets.
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Reduced-fare MetroCards may soon become a reality for low-income straphangers, as Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council have reached a deal Wednesday to provide roughly $100 million in funding to the program. The mayor’s agreement with Speaker Corey Johnson, who has been one of the most vocal supporters of a Fair Fares program, means the city would fully subsidize the cost of providing half-price MetroCards to New Yorkers who fall below the federal poverty line, or a household income of $25,000 for a family of four.
Nearly 800,000 New Yorkers could benefit from the discounted fares. Under the tentative deal, the city would allocate $106 million in its upcoming budget, which would pay for six months of the program beginning in January, according to the New York Times.
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The MTA’s new cardless fare system will completely phase out the MetroCard by 2023, and transit advocates from the TransitCenter and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign believe there’s more to gain here than strictly streamlining the swiping process. In a report released this week titled “A New Way to Ride,” the groups outline three main policy opportunities available through the new fare system–seamless bus boarding, fare capping, and enhanced service information–all of which have been implemented in other cities with similar payment technology.
All the details ahead
Fighters for the Fair Fare initiative to secure half-priced MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers strengthened their resolve Wednesday as the Metropolitan Transit Authority announced plans to increase fares by 25 cents early next year. The group argues that the brunt of bus and subway fare increases fall on the city’s low-income residents who might forego food, their education, looking for a job and appreciating what the city has to offer because they can’t pay a fare. About 800,000 New Yorkers would be eligible for reduced fares, according to research from the Community Service Society. Each person could save around $700 a year.
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