The City Council is gearing up for a full-court press on providing half-price MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers, known as “Fair Fares,” which is part of its just-released budget proposal for the next year.
The initiative will be a $212 million addition the City budget, to be paid for by reductions in other parts of the budget. It will save $700 per year for its approximately 800,00 participants, which include anyone “below the federal poverty level,” and “all veterans who are currently enrolled in New York City colleges.”
“This is not us subsidizing the MTA. This is us helping low-income New Yorkers,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said.
The move has been applauded by many advocacy groups, who have urged the initiative for years.
“There is no simpler way for Mayor de Blasio and the City of New York to bridge the gap and expand access to public transportation for all New Yorkers than by funding Fair Fares in this year’s budget,” said Jaqi Cohen, Campaign Coordinator for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign.
What is different in the new move is the support from large swaths of the Council and other City elected officials: 44 of the 51 total councilmembers, four borough presidents, three District Attorneys, and the City Comptroller and Public Advocate attended a press conference early Wednesday morning supporting the proposal.
Mayor de Blasio has said, while in favor of the program overall, that the City cannot afford it this year, given that the State is forcing a $418 million payment for half of the M.T.A’s Subway Action Plan.