The de Blasio Administration and City Council Speaker Johnson today announced open enrollment for the City’s Fair Fares program. Starting today, all New Yorkers living at or below the federal poverty line can apply for reduced-fare MetroCards. For more information, New Yorkers should visit www.nyc.gov/fairfares.
“Access to public transportation is a basic right—not a luxury for the wealthy,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “With Fair Fares, we are making our city fairer for low-income New Yorkers whose lives depend on mass transportation.”
“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,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “Today, we are attempting to ease their burden by making half-priced MetroCards 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. The City Council is proud to partner with Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Banks to expand this program, and I want to especially thank Community Service Society and Riders Alliance for pushing us to make Fair Fares a reality.”
The game-changing Fair Fares program began in early 2019, connecting low-income New Yorkers to vital transportation assistance, beginning with certain New Yorkers receiving Cash Assistance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. In Fall 2019, the program was expanded to select City University of New York (CUNY) students, student veterans, and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents who met the program’s eligibility criteria. Altogether, in its first year, more than 107,000 New Yorkers have enrolled in the program.
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Last month, the City launched a comprehensive multi-million-dollar advertising campaign to spread the word about open enrollment for the program, including targeted advertisements in ZIP Codes where many eligible New Yorkers live and work. The campaign—in 11 different languages—includes advertisements on subways and buses, in bus shelters, and online, as well as in local businesses, and community and ethnic media news publications. In close collaboration with the Council, the Administration has also worked with advocates and local community-based organizations to raise awareness through in-person and on-the-ground outreach.
“Fair Fares ensures that all New Yorkers, no matter their income, can access health and social services where and when they need them,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Raul Perea-Henze. “The de Blasio administration is proud to work in partnership with the City Council to expand Fair Fares and empower more New Yorkers to reach their destinations and dreams. We urge all eligible New Yorkers to sign up today.”
“With more than 100,000 New Yorkers already utilizing reduced-fare MetroCards through our Fair Fares program, we are proud of the positive impact the initiative has had on so many and we’re excited to take this progress even further with our new open enrollment process,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “New Yorkers in need should not have to choose between getting food for their families or getting where they need to go. By expanding enrollment, we’re reaching even more New Yorkers with this vital resource, empowering more individuals and families to access opportunity, and continuing to make our City the fairest in the nation.”
“For New Yorkers living paycheck to paycheck or managing a tight budget, our Fair Fares program has been a game-changer with an immediate positive impact,” said HRA Administrator Grace Bonilla. “Today’s expansion will help even more New Yorkers get to school, get to work, get to doctors’ appointments, and go about their daily lives with dignity—and without having to worry about affording transportation fare or foregoing that essential trip. As we fight income inequality and address poverty with every tool at our disposal, HRA is proud to be on the forefront of this innovative initiative.”
“As a mother raising a young child in New York City, I am thrilled at the expansion of the Fair Fares program, which will empower so many of our New Yorkers get to and from work, school, child care, medical appointments, and so much more. With half-priced MetroCards now available citywide to eligible New Yorkers, this program will help our city’s most vulnerable populations- seniors, immigrants, veterans, students, families and care takers, among others. Thank you to Riders’ Alliance, Speaker Johnson, and Council colleagues for helping keep New Yorkers on the go,” said Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo.
“Now Fair Fares will reach an even greater number of New Yorkers in need. Fair Fares already makes bus and subway rides affordable for thousands of low income commuters. Because of this expansion, the program will be available to thousands of additional New Yorkers who rely upon mass transit each day. Fair Fares is a top priority for Speaker Johnson and the NYC Council, for the de Blasio administration and for transportation advocates across the city. Together we are taking this vitally important effort to new heights,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm, Chair of the Council’s Finance Committee.
“Today, over 800k people will have the opportunity to apply for 50% reduced fare. 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. I will continue working alongside Speaker Johnson, Transit advocates and New Yorkers to ensure that we make our transit system affordable to all New Yorkers,” said uptown Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee.
“I am very proud to join Speaker Johnson and Commissioner Banks in announcing the expansion of Fair Fares. Fair Fares is among the most impactful programs the City has established in recent years. Everyone deserves to have an affordable subway ride to connect to work, family, medical appointments, and the myriad of obligations we have as New Yorkers. Fair Fares brings that affordability to thousands of New Yorkers,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, Chair of the Council’s General Welfare Committee.
“In most other cities, a car is a basic necessity. But here in New York, it’s a MetroCard. That’s your ticket to work, to college classes, to medical care, to coming home on time to your kids,” said Nancy Rankin, Vice President for Policy Research and Advocacy for the Community Service Society (CSS). “Today, with this far-reaching expansion of Fair Fares to all New Yorkers below poverty, the city will help hundreds of thousands more get on board and get ahead. We thank Council Speaker Corey Johnson, the City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio for making affordable transit a new reality.”
“Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Johnson for delivering Fair Fares,” said Riders Alliance member and New Yorker Rhonda Jackson. “On a weekly basis, I have to think about which transit trips are absolutely necessary, because at times I simply can’t afford the fare. In the past, I may have skipped lunch to get to a doctors appointment. But being able to apply for Fair Fares today will make tough decisions like that one so much easier now.”
“Fair Fares is the best thing ever created,” said Fair Fares participant and New Yorker Gisillet Peralta. “It makes it easier for me to pay my other bills, which is tough considering that I work part-time. New Yorkers should apply as soon as possible because this will have a significant impact on their lives.”
“Enrolling in Fair Fares has been great because it leaves me extra money for other pressing bills,” said Fair Fares participant and New Yorker Resident Leanna Raymond. “For people having a hard time paying for transportation, cutting subway fare in half saves a lot of money.”