City officially launches ‘Fair Fares’ NYC program for low-income New Yorkers

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Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson held a joint appearance Friday afternoon to roll out the city’s fair fare program and its efforts to address poverty through the development of a half-priced MetroCard for low-income New Yorkers.

The program is launching in phases and initial eligibility is open to New Yorkers at or below the federal poverty line who are receiving cash assistance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance from the city’s Department of Social Services.

“New Yorkers shouldn’t have to choose between a ride on the subway or bus and their next meal,” de Blasio said. “Our partnership with the Council for fair fares will make our city stronger and fairer for low-income New Yorkers whose lives depend on mass transporta­tion.”

The Fair Fares NYC MetroCard will allow participants to purchase unlimited weekly and monthly passes at a 50 percent discount at MTA vending machines. The cards can be used on any New York City subway or non-express bus.

The city is working with the MTA to phase in a pay-per-ride option, which it expects to launch in April.

“Fair Fares is a groundbreaking program that will help New Yorkers who need it most,” Johnson said. “Fair Fares will open up this city and its promise to people who currently are being shut out because they can’t afford a swipe. It will change lives for the better.”

Last spring, the Mayor and the Council announced a plan to fund $106 million for the Fair Fares NYC program in the first year. On Jan. 4, the Department of Social Services started contacting 30,000 eligible working New Yorkers who are receiving cash benefits. The notifications, and subsequent phone calls, will inform the group of their eligibility, and invite then to the nearest Fair Fares NYC location to receive their half-priced MetroCard.

Eligible recipients can also call 311 to assist in receiving their card. In April, and additional estimated 130,000 New Yorkers who are receiving SNAP benefits will receive notifications about how to access their cards.

“Fair Fares is now a reality in New York City,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm, the chair of the Committee on Finance. “These discounted MetroCards will make bus and subway fares more affordable for thousands of low income New Yorkers who rely upon mass transit each day. Fair Fares has long been a priority of the Council and I’m thrilled to see it come to fruition.”

Critics argue the program leaves out CUNY students, the working poor and some immigrants. Comptroller Scott Stringer released data that shows the city had significantly scaled back initial eligibility leaving out hundreds of thousands of low-income New Yorkers.

“The good news is that Fair Fares is finally leaving the station. The bad news is that after today’s announcement, the price of a MetroCard will remain an obstacle for the vast majority of the 800,000 New Yorkers who were originally promised relief,” Stringer said. “That’s hundreds of thousands of families who will struggle to get to work or a job interview because they can’t afford a full fare. For their sake, we need to make sure this delay doesn’t become a derailment.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

Posted 12:00 am, January 8, 2019
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Reader feedback

Helton from Flushing says:
No possible chance for corruption by lying about eligibility. So a middle class guy who's barely keeping his family above water has his taxes used for someone else to get a cheaper fare, but not him. Another great plan from the Dope from Park Slope.
Jan. 8, 9:52 am
Jr from Bayside says:
Great program,only $106,000,000. Hmm, who is going to shoulder this? Oh I know , the tax payer, after all we can afford it. First welfare, then, section 8, then food stamps. wic, free phones, $15 an hour to flip a burger. Natural progression is free vacations.
Jan. 8, 11:34 am
Roger from Flushing says:
Looks like Jr will love this one, hot off the press. DiBlasio just announced health coverage for ALL, New York city people. Regardless of immigration status. Guess who is going to pay for it? LOL. thats right the 50% that do pay taxes. Thats who voted for this big bird
Jan. 8, 12:13 pm
Garbageforworkingclass from Queens says:
This is going to raise everyone elses fares for sure. The working class will surely pay for this by the end of this year. We may as well skip 3 dollar fares and go up to 4 dollars by next month.
Jan. 8, 5:03 pm
Jesie from Manhattan says:
It's so funny the ones who are eligible for this program are the ones that are staying at home getting food stamps and welfare,rocking the latest Jordans, have the latest iPhones and are dressed from head to toe in name brand, oh and don't forget they have their hair and nails done and popping babies. Last but not least are always traveling somewhere. Yet the people who really do work and can use some assistance don't get anything at all but yet the taxes are taken out to support those who do absolutely crap.
Jan. 8, 10:45 pm
Yari from Staten Island. says:
Jessie from Manhattan I totally get where you’re coming from but you can’t stereotype everyone that is on welfare because I am currently a recipient and I work very hard at my full time job and also go to school full time so that I can better myself and hopefully can get off of welfare. So I understand your frustration but don’t think that everyone on public assistance is just sitting at home not doing anything.
Jan. 9, 11:17 pm
Patty from FiDi says:
Yari, I thought it was illegal for someone to work full time and receive welfare/assistance. No?
Jan. 10, 3:38 pm
The Hunkster from Bed-Stuy says:
I still don't get why #FairFares is sure a controversy during the de Blasio administration to tackly progressively rather than other simplest of things.
Jan. 14, 3:17 pm

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