When the City Council’s Committee on Transportation meets on Tuesday to discuss pressing budget needs, it will present two top priorities: develop a publicly funded Citi Bike expansion for the five boroughs and subsidize half-fare MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers.
“The overall interest is continuing conversation and hearing from the mayor and institutions that are related to our transportation system on how we can continue improving transportation ... plans for the future,” said Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the transportation committee.
To help “many working-class New Yorkers struggling with mobility,” Rodriguez said he’ll continue pressuring the de Blasio administration to support the “FairFares” proposal for the city to provide subsidized MetroCards for New Yorkers living at or below the federal poverty line.
“It’s important to do more to support especially working-class New Yorkers — knowing that there are other cities, such as Seattle, that already have started a FairFares initiative,” Rodriguez said, “and knowing also that the mayor also has expressed that he believes in the merits of the idea.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio has also repeatedly shot down the proposal, arguing that the city can’t afford to support it now — especially considering President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts.
As for Citi Bike, public financing would be needed to expand its reach, according to Motivate, the bike share’s operator. The Transportation Committee will push for another Citi Bike expansion in 2018, but until Motivate and the Department of Transportation map out what that expansion would look like, it’s unclear how much taxpayer money would be needed.
Rodriguez said the committee will also prod the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to look for new sources of revenue. He’d like to see the MTA collaborate with businesses to see if there is a way those businesses could “sponsor” a nearby subway station. A business would get ad space, while the MTA would get additional revenue to maintain the station.
Another option Rodriguez will suggest is to develop more Hudson Yards-esque plans for other train yards in the city.
“This is an institution worth $1 trillion with a lot of real estate, so I’d be interested in looking at the MTA’s real estate portfolio for development options,” Rodriguez said.