Thousands are eligible for half-priced MetroCards
BY MARK HALLUM
New Yorkers in need once again
have the opportunity to sign up for
half-priced MetroCards for the “Fair
Mayor Bill de Blasio and local elected
officials are encouraging people to
enroll in the initiative after a late 2019
expansion of eligibility criteria.
The administration is boasting that
107,000 have enrolled in the program in
its first year and that now CUNY students,
student veterans, and NYCHA
residents who meet other standards
can sign up for a MetroCard with an
“FF” on the back.
The program has grown since it
was last discussed in October 2019, at
which point only 76,000 New Yorkers
were enrolled and city Comptroller
Scott Stringer criticized the program
as not accessible enough as only 15
percent of subway riders pay weekly or
“New Yorkers living in poverty
make difficult choices daily about how
to spend money, sometimes sacrificing
basic necessities like warm boots to
pay for transportation costs,” Council
Speaker Corey Johnson said Monday.
“Today, we are attempting to ease their
burden by making half-priced Metro-
Cards available to all residents who
meet the federal poverty threshold.
Already, more than 100,000 New Yorkers
have enrolled in Fair Fares but we
know so many more people can benefit
from this program. I urge anyone who
is eligible to sign up.”
Councilman Ydanis Rodríguez, who
chairs the Transportation Committee,
said that while Fair Fares could reach
more than 800,000 people this year,
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more expansion is needed.
“Today, over 800,000 people will have
the opportunity to apply for 50 percent
reduced fare,” Rodríguez said. “We must
ensure that the New York City Transit
is affordable, accessible, and reliable
to all. We must continue expanding
the Fair Fares programs reach, ensuring
that it covers every working-class
family in New York City.”
Chief Operating Officer of the MTA
Mario Peloquin said expansion of the
Fair Fares is a fitting supplement to
programs the state agency already has
in place to discount senior citizens or
offer free Metro-Cards to students.
“The MTA stands ready to assist
the City in any way possible to ensure
New Yorkers living below the poverty
line have access to half-price transit
services,” Peloquin said. “The MTA
is committed to providing the most
affordable transportation options possible
to all New Yorkers who rely on us
to get where they need to go, including
work, doctors, school, and more.”
Although the program is growing
and has gotten over the struggles of its
early days, such as disorganization, it
still offers major obstacles for not only
getting a Fair Fares card but also for
people already accepted.
Some riders have complained about
the difficulty of replacing cards they have
lost such as two month wait periods.
But the month of December saw
outreach from the city in the form of
targeted advertisements in ZIP Codes
where concentrations of eligible New
Yorkers live, the speaker’s office said.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by email
or by phone at (718) 260–4564.
Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks (podium) speaks about
the Fair Fares program as (from left to right) City Councilman Carlos Menchaca, City
Council Speaker Corey Johnson and City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, with transit
advocates, look on. Photo via Twitter/@NYCHRA
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