Advocates call for expansion of Fair Fares discount program

If New Yorkers needed a break at the turnstiles, they got one in 2019 in the form of a program called "Fair Fares." The program gives a 50% discount on MTA rides for New Yorkers living below the national poverty line. 

Now a group wants to expand the eligibility to include those living up to twice the national poverty level, which advocates said, comes out to about the same in the city. 

"It’s not apples to apples when you’re talking about the poverty level across the country. It’s far more expensive in New York City," said City Council member Selvena Brooks-Powers. 

Individual New Yorkers are eligible if they make less than $14,000 a year and $30,000 a year for a family of four. Since the program launched, nearly 280,000 New Yorkers have signed up. 

Council members who advocate for the program’s expansion said despite outreach efforts, the COVID-19 pandemic hit right after it launched, and New Yorkers stopped using mass transit. Sign up offices were closed as staffers were sent home. 

Brooks-Powers and transit advocates are calling on Mayor Eric Adams to increase the current $75 million budgeted so that the discount can be offered to New Yorkers living at twice the federal poverty level. 

"It's a top priority of this administration to cut red tape and connect more New Yorkers with the wide range of benefits the city offers, including Fair Fares. The administration baselined $75 million for the first time in the program’s history in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which will not only allow us to enroll more eligible New Yorkers, but will also allow us to conduct a robust, year-round, ongoing outreach campaign to commuters in need of this benefit. We want as many New Yorkers as possible to take advantage of Fair Fares, and will evaluate additional needs through the budget process," City hall said in a statement to FOX 5 New York.