The city’s program providing half-fare MetroCards to low-income New Yorkers has hit a milestone, with over 50,000 people signing up for the benefit, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced Wednesday.
The Fair Fares program, belatedly launched with limited availability in January, is now operating at full steam thanks to the debut in April of an online platform that enables eligible New Yorkers to sign up for the benefit via the city’s Access HRA application. More than 70% of current enrollees applied for the discounted weekly, monthly or single ride MetroCards through the city’s web and mobile options, according to the mayor’s office.
“Using mass transit to get around is central to the lives of New Yorkers — struggling to afford it shouldn’t be,” de Blasio said in a statement Wednesday. “I look forward to growing the program even further.”
Fair Fares, the result of a partnership between the mayor’s office and City Council, is currently available to New Yorkers who receive cash assistance through the city Department of Social Services as well as those who are enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. In the fall, the program will expand to include NYCHA residents, CUNY students and veterans living in poverty, according to city officials.
“Working New Yorkers living in poverty need help. Fair Fares is an unprecedented program designed to ease their burden. The Council, which fought hard to enact Fair Fares, is proud that 50,000 New Yorkers have enrolled,” Johnson said in a statement. “We look forward to serving and assisting more low-income families in the months to come because we understand that for some people, the cost of a swipe is unmanageable.”
When the program is fully rolled out, it is expected to provide much-needed financial relief to about 800,000 people who are living at or below the federal poverty line, as well as those with a household income of about $25,000. An open enrollment process for all eligible New Yorkers should be available by January 2020.