On March 4th, the Mayor’s office released a new plan to fully implement the Fair Fares program that will provide half-priced MetroCards to New York City residents living at or below poverty. The program will continue to roll out in phases, with all eligible residents being able to sign up by January of 2020. With this commitment to the full realization of the program, with a defined plan and timetable, the city is taking a significant step towards making our subways and buses a more fair system.
The first phase of the plan, as announced this January, was to include the estimated 30,000 New Yorkers who receive cash assistance and are employed at least 20 hours a week. This latest release updates the scope of the city’s outreach in this first phase to 45,000, which included some SNAP recipients. The second phase, which is to begin in April, will continue its expansion to employed SNAP recipients and will also see the launch of an online registration platform.
The final phases of the rollout have also been announced, including the addition of eligible NYCHA residents, CUNY students, and veterans, beginning this fall. The big news, however, is the commitment made by the Mayor and the City Council to make the Fair Fares discount available to all New Yorkers at or below poverty, no matter their employment, immigration, or other status, as of January of 2020.
The city also announced a faster timetable in expanding the Fair Fares beyond the weekly and monthly MetroCard options currently available with the addition of a pay-per-ride card this month.
While the numbers of those registered in the program to date are small, only 5,800, we expect to see them dramatically increase as the program expands and are encouraged by the city’s plan to begin an online advertising campaign in addition to their mail, email, and phone outreach.
We applaud the Mayor, the Speaker, and the City Council for their efforts to ensure that all those promised Fair Fares will be able to use this important and necessary program in the near future. The Community Service Society has led the way to this milestone, from our foundational research on transit affordability to building—along with the Riders Alliance— a strong coalition to advocate for half-priced fares for all residents at or below poverty. We look forward to continuing to work with the administration to see that the Fair Fares program reaches its full potential.