NEW YORK (PIX11) — Hundreds of thousands of New York City residents could get half-price rides on subways and buses — but they haven’t yet signed up for the program.
Fair Fares was created for people with income at the federal poverty level. In this year’s budget, Mayor Eric Adams and the New York City Council increased funding to the program by $20 million.
Those who make 20% above the federal line can enroll in the program. There’s an effort to raise the threshold even higher.
An individual is eligible with a monthly income of $1,458, which is up from $1,215. For a family of four, the limit went from $2,500 to $3,000.
About 300,000 New Yorkers have signed up. It’s estimated that around 900,000 are eligible.
Pedro Valdez-Rivera tells his neighbors about the city-funded program.
“You can refill it. You can use it on subways and buses for half-price,” Valdez-Rivera said.
People can register with the New York City Human Resources Administration and offices that administer food and housing benefits. Information is also available at MTA customer service centers throughout the transit system and by calling 311.
Judy Wang helped her mom sign up and then she herself got laid off from her job. Income is based on tax returns and Wang’s was higher than the limit.
“I’m trying to find a job. Qualifying would help me get around the city for the interviews,” Wang said.
Advocates continue to push the city to raise the income level to twice the federal poverty level.
“We want them to take into account what it costs to live here in New York. The fight continues,” said Danna Dennis, with Riders Alliance.
Two hundred percent of the federal level for a family of four would be around $60,000 or $5,000 a month. An individual making around $29,000 could apply if the program accommodated the higher level.
Advocates estimate it would cost an additional $60 million. Currently, the program’s total cost is $95 million.
“We’re calling on the mayor and city to raise it to 200% of the poverty level so the working poor don’t have to decide between a meal and MetroCard,” said Lisa Daglian, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA.
The MTA has been advertising the program and another discount for all riders. If you tap with the OMNY fare payment system, rides become unlimited with no charge after the 12th ride in a week.
A single ride costs $2.90, as of Aug. 20, after a 15-cent increase.