Jeff Maclin, Community Service Society
(212) 614-5538 (office), (718) 309-2346 (cell)
Rebecca Bailin, Riders Alliance
Today’s decision by the MTA Board to raise subway and bus fares by eliminating the pay-per-ride bonus and increasing the price of 7-day and 30-day unlimited passes makes it even more imperative for Mayor Bill de Blasio to fully roll out Fair Fares to all eligible city residents at or below poverty.
The half-fare discount provided by Fair Fares will help cushion the lowest income transit riders from the impact of the latest fare hike. But so far, under the mayor’s initial rollout which began in January, the reduced fare cards are only available to an estimated 30,000 cash assistance recipients who are employed at least 20 hours a week. City Hall said it plans to expand the program to include up to 130,000 employed food stamps recipients starting in April. This still falls far short of the estimated 700,000 New Yorkers in poverty who were promised half-price fares when the Council and the Mayor agreed to fund the program last June. It leaves out all the jobless, and many of the working poor and college students who are not receiving public assistance, including immigrants who do not qualify for federal programs or are fearful of applying.
With fares going up, it is even more urgent now for the City to expand Fair Fares to all those who are eligible as quickly as possible. We urge the mayor to provide a concrete plan and timetable for rolling out the full program, and to offer every eligible New Yorker the opportunity to sign up for a reduced fare card by launching a robust outreach campaign.
Even with the fare increase, the dire state of our subway system requires a major infusion of funds to modernize its decrepit infrastructure. The agreement announced this week by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio to fund the MTA through congestion pricing and other revenue streams is a major step forward. Low-income New Yorkers depend on public transit. They need a system they can afford, but they also need one that works.
For more than 170 years, the Community Service Society of New York has been the leading voice on behalf of low-income New Yorkers and continues to advocate for the economic security of the working poor in the nation’s largest city. We respond to urgent, contemporary challenges with applied research, advocacy, litigation and innovative program models that help the working poor achieve a better quality of life and promote a more prosperous city. Visit us at www.cssny.org.
The Riders Alliance is a grassroots organization of subway and bus riders pushing for better service at affordable fares and a stronger public investment in mass transit. Visit us at ridersny.org