Low-income New Yorkers will finally have access to half-fare MetroCards.
A year after launching a limited pilot of the discount program, known as Fair Fares, the city is set to open enrollment to all New Yorkers living at or below the federal poverty line on Jan. 27, Mayor de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced Friday.
Fair Fares launched back in January and is currently open to specific NYCHA residents, CUNY Students, veteran students or New Yorkers receiving benefits from the city’s Human Resources Administration, attracting almost 100,000 participants.
Now the expansion opens the program to roughly 800,000 low-income New Yorkers.
“We know how hard it can be to make ends meet in New York and that’s why we want everyone to know about the expansion of the Fair Fares program, which gives half-priced MetroCards to residents who meet the poverty threshold,” said Johnson in a statement.
The city will roll out the program with a new ad campaign on subways and bus shelters. New Yorkers with a household income of $25,750 for a family of four can apply online for the discount.
De Blasio initially fought funding the program, estimated to cost $212 million, because the city couldn’t afford it he said—only to agree during last year’s budget negotiations after advocacy from the Community Service Society of New York, Riders Alliance and Speaker Johnson.
“We’re a city that puts working people first, and no New Yorker should have to choose between taking mass transit and putting food on the table,” de Blasio said in a statement.
Rebecca Bailin, of the Riders Alliance, said the next expansion phase is “huge” for actualizing the program.
“It’s a stress reliever…it means not having to think about how you’re going to pay to get on the train or make tough decisions in our life,” Bailin said. “In New York, public transit isn’t really an option; it’s a necessity. It’s really valuable and exciting that the city is offering this discount for so many people who need it.”