With MetroCard prices always on the rise, a transit group on Sunday called on the city to give struggling New Yorkers a break to ride subways and buses.
The Riders Alliance, joined by city Controller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James, launched a “Fair Fares” campaign to get Mayor de Blasio and lawmakers to create a program for half-price MetroCards for an estimated 800,000 residents living below the poverty line who would be eligible to participate. New York would join Seattle and San Francisco in offering a income-based discounts for transit.
“This city relies on public transportation, and yet too often New Yorkers are forced to choose between going to work putting food on the table,” James said.
A study from the Community Service Society, which supports the effort, estimated that it would cost the Metropolitan Transportation Authority $194 million a year if just 361,000 of the eligible New Yorkers make use of a half-cost MetroCard. The study says that the MTA, which offers reduced fares for the disabled and elderly, could be made whole from the city’s budget or new revenue from higher gas surcharges and new bridge tolls. The city would also save money from the $48 million it spends on MetroCards for people enrolled in job training and education programs.
“The Riders Alliance and the Community Service Society have put together an interesting proposal, and we look forward to reviewing the report in greater detail,” de Blasio spokeswoman Natalie Grybauskas said.
David Jones, president of the Community Service Society and de Blasio’s nominee to the MTA board, said that high transit prices burden the working poor. His group’s study found that a quarter of working age people who struggle to make ends meet had been unable to afford a MetroCard swipe.
“The MTA should be available to everyone in our city, not just those with credit cards in their pocket who can afford a monthly pass, but to those with a few bucks in their pockets who are struggling to take care of their families and get ahead,” Jones said.
The MTA declined to comment.
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