City Council pushes to expand NYC’s half-priced MetroCard program

Gothamist, Stephen Nessen, April 4, 2023

The City Council is pushing to expand the city’s Fair Fares program, which offers half-priced MetroCards to low-income New Yorkers.

The program was created in 2019 with a budget of $106 million. At the time, the city estimated 800,000 people living at or below the federal poverty level would qualify.

But now, city data shows roughly 283,000 people are enrolled in the program — and its budget stood at $75 million last year.

On Monday, the City Council demanded the funding for Fair Fares increase to $136.5 million — and also called for more New Yorkers to be eligible for the half-priced rides – in a response to Mayor Eric Adams’ proposed budget for next fiscal year.

The Council wants to expand the program to any New Yorker whose income is up to twice the federal poverty level. It would double the current limit, which prohibits a family of four whose income exceeds $27,750 a year from qualifying for the discounted rates.

“There are many more low-income individuals with limited resources who rely on public transit and are not eligible for the program,” the Council wrote in its response.

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