Discount MetroCard program fails to launch on time

New York City officials are demanding answers from the mayor after the so-called Fair Fares program, which promises half-priced metro cards to 800,000 New Yorkers who live on or below the poverty line, was supposed to launch on Jan. 1 but didn't.

"This was supposed to be the game-changer in the anti-poverty movement," City Comptroller Scott Stringer said. "Instead, it's starting to look like a mockery."

No one knows anything about it.

"We have no answers, we have no transparency," Stringer said. "They are holding $106 million of public money and they have not yet rolled out this program."

The program has not even been advertised.

In June 2018, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would spend the next six months working out the details so the program would be ready in time for a Jan. 1 launch.

He was pressed on the matter on Wednesday but would not give a definitive answer, only saying details are coming soon and that the city wants to get it right from the beginning.

"Literarily, what we will announce in the next few days is the first element of this and how people can apply," de Blasio said. "And then we're going to add to it regularly as we go forward."

Stringer said his job is to account for the $106 million allocated.

"The city is telling people to call 311 and 311 is telling people to look for a letter in the mail months from now," Rebeca Bailin, the political director for the Riders Alliance, said. "That is unacceptable."

This program could save someone $750 a year, which for some is a full month's rent.

New York City Transit President Andy Byford said he and the agency support the city-run program.

"For the record, we are ready to go," he said.

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, the chair of the Transportation Committee, also pointed the finger at the mayor, saying this morning that city has failed.