Dear Speaker Johnson and Chair Dromm:
We write to support the inclusion of discount MetroCards for New Yorkers below the poverty line, or Fair Fares, in the Council’s response to Mayor de Blasio’s preliminary fiscal year 2019 budget. Access to our subways and buses is a basic economic necessity for New Yorkers, who rely on transit to get to work, school, doctors’ visits, and essential services. Yet a report by the Community Service Society found that one in four low-income, working-age New Yorkers cannot afford a MetroCard.
We as a Council can fix that. The city’s own poverty measure shows that commuting costs are pushing New Yorkers into poverty and the impact is more significant than child care costs. To be a truly progressive city, we should fund half-price MetroCards for New Yorkers living in poverty.
Last summer, following our lead, Mayor de Blasio included $250 million for half-price MetroCards for 800,000 New Yorkers in his Fair Fix transit funding proposal to Fix the Subways. This winter, the mayor called in his State of the City address for New York to become the fairest city in the nation. He invoked the word “fair” and its variants 42 separate times and again embraced a policy of half-price fares for low-income New Yorkers. Now it’s time for the city to lead.
New York, which continues to face staggering levels of income inequality, cannot be the fairest city in America while hundreds of thousands of our neighbors have trouble accessing daily necessities because they cannot afford to take the bus or subway. Over the past year, Mayor de Blasio has evinced a clear understanding of the bar that full fares pose to so many New Yorkers’ participation in city life and struggle to rise out of poverty. We are confident, that where the Council leads, the mayor will follow and join us in weaving a vital new thread into our social safety net.
We therefore respectfully request that you make Fair Fares part of this year’s budget response.