NYC councilman aims to lower Metrocard fares for low-income families

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NEW YORK – Low-income New Yorkers might start getting help paying their Metrocard fares through a proposed program that would be funded by unused fares and donations, a local councilman said Wednesday.

Commuters are pictured on June 15, 2016. (Credit: PIX11)

Commuters are pictured on June 15, 2016. (Credit: PIX11)

Councilman Fernando Cabrera of the Bronx has introduced the program, which would allow Metrocard purchasers to donate money that would directly impact the cost of a Metrocard for these families.

The program would also be funded by unused cards, which he said equalled $52 million last year alone.

According to Cabrera, 300,000 New York City residents are spending at least 10 percent of their income on transportation, which can lead to tough decisions.

“Sometimes they have to decide between food, medication or transportation to go to work,” Cabrera said.

Similar ideas have been successful in other large cities, according to Cabrera.

“This is not a new idea. It’s been used in San Francisco, in Seattle, it’s been used in London, and we have no fare reduction for the working poor and we had, since 2009, three fare increases.”

Those three fare increases raised the Metrocard price from $2 in 2009 to this year’s cost of $2.75, with another increase expected in 2017.

Cabrera is hoping his donation system could take effect before the price increase occurs, which would require the MTA’s cooperation with the program.

“The only thing I foresee that would stop the MTA from applying and exercising such a program is the MTA,” Cabrera said. “And so I’m calling upon the MTA to do what is really the spirit of New York City which is to have a generous heart.”