Jan. 28, 2020 By Kristen Torres
City officials are encouraging low-income New Yorkers to apply for half price MetroCards under the city’s Fair Fares program.
The program was launched in early 2019 for residents receiving cash assistance, and was expanded over the course of the year to include NYCHA residents, CUNY students and veteran students.
City residents living at or below the federal poverty line—which is $12,760 for a single-person household or $21,720 for a family of three—are now also eligible to apply.
Nearly 800,000 city residents now qualify for reduced MTA fares, but only around 107,000 people have enrolled in the program, according to the mayor’s office.
Fair Fares gives eligible riders 50 percent off regular MTA rates, including for weekly and monthly passes. Under the program, a rider would pay $16.50 for an unlimited weekly MTA pass, instead of the usual $33.
The Fair Fares NYC MetroCard works just like a regular MetroCard— cardholders can choose to “add time” or “add value” but pay only half the cost. The card is usable on MTA subways and buses but not for use on MTA Express Buses, the Long Island Railroad, or Metro-North.
“Access to public transportation is a basic right—not a luxury for the wealthy,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement Monday. “With Fair Fares, we are making our city fairer for low-income New Yorkers whose lives depend on mass transportation.”
The city launched a targeted campaign to spread the word about the program last month with hopes of increasing enrollment, but Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the council’s transportation committee, said more expansion is still needed.
“We must ensure that the New York City Transit is affordable, accessible, and reliable to all,” Rodriguez said in a statement Monday. “We must continue expanding the Fair Fares programs reach, ensuring that it covers every working-class family in New York City.”
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson led efforts to create the program alongside the mayor’s office, and said the program’s expansion was necessary to help all low-income New Yorkers.
“New Yorkers living in poverty make difficult choices daily about how to spend money,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “We are attempting to ease their burden by making half-priced MetroCards available to all residents who meet the federal poverty threshold. I urge anyone who is eligible to sign up.”
Residents can apply for Fair Fares online at www.nyc.gov/fairfares.