New Yorkers rally to subsidize MTA fare for low-income residents

Sunday marked first day the newest MTA fare hikes took effect. While the price of a single subway or bus ride has not increased, a coalition of New Yorkers said it was time to give low-income riders a break.

Activists, local officials, and community leaders came together to ask Mayor de Blasio to step in. They want him to carve out a chunk of the 2018 city budget to subsidize MetroCards for New Yorkers below the poverty line.

The monthly MetroCard went up $4.50, from $116.50 to $121.00. There was no change in the single ride fare of $2.75.

“It’s not just one thing. The fares were too high to begin with already, and these unemployed, underemployed New Yorkers already have a lot of costs,” said Jesse Laymon, director of Policy and Advocacy for NYC employment and training coalition.

Since the budget deal in 2009, the MTA schedules fare hikes every 2 years, this one being the smallest hike. Chairman Thomas Prendergast said the MTA is focused on keeping mass transit affordable for low income riders. The Community Service Society said the mayor can subsidize fares as is currently done for students, senior citizens and people with disabilities.

“Research shows that 800,000 New Yorkers are living under the poverty line would benefit,” said Nancy Rankin, Vice President for Policy of the Community Service Society.

The city currently supplies more than $5 billion in subsidies to support the MTA.

Mayor de Blasio spokesperson, Freddie Goldstein, said "The proposal is a noble one, but it would create a substantial financial burden for New York City. As New Yorkers know, the MTA is the responsibility of the state. They should cover the cost." 

Riders had some thoughts about the recent fare hike- “How are they raising the fare and they’re not improving the subway?” said one.

“It’s unfortunate, but such is life,” said another.

The MTA also increased fares on the LIRR, Metro North, and MTA bridges and tunnels.