Transit Advocates Step up Pressure on de Blasio to Commit City Money for Reduced Fare MetroCards
Advocates are making a new push for City Hall to fund discounted transit fares for low-income riders — even though Mayor Bill de Blasio has rejected the idea, declining to put the money in his preliminary city budget. Transit Reporter Jose Martinez has that update.
"I think this is good policy," the mayor said. "They should fund it. We're not in a position to fund it."
Last month, Mayor de Blasio rejected a proposal to give low-income riders discounted MetroCards at the city's expense.
"As I like to say in these gatherings, the state of New York controls the MTA," de Blasio said.
On Monday, one of the mayor's own appointees to the MTA board urged him to reconsider.
He even jabbed at de Blasio's transit priorities, saying they will end up costing the city more money.
"Watercraft, buzzing around the city harbors, a light rail transit that could only ultimately serve my kids, millennials who have a lot of money and could pay two fares," said MTA board member David Jones.
The proposal would slash the fare in half for about one in four New Yorkers who take mass transit.
Supporters say the need for reduced fares is even more urgent with the cost of weekly and monthly MetroCards rising next month
"This is a need and any help that a single mother or anyone struggling to get by in New York City can get, yeah, we pretty much need it," said one rider.
Several City Council members and other politicians joined the latest "Fair Fares" rally Monday before heading in to a Council Transportation Committee hearing.
"We will continue the conversation with the Mayor and with the support of the Speaker, we can move this initiative," said Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez.
The city already provides nearly a billion dollars a year in direct subsidies to the state-run MTA, and last year committed to chipping in an additional two and a half billion dollars over five years for capital projects.
But advocates aren't giving up.
There's still plenty of time for the 'Fair Fares' proposal to be negotiated into the city's executive budget, which has to be finalized by July 1.