Activists Urge Unlimited MetroCard Holders to 'Swipe It Forward' for Low-Income Riders

Activists are urging people with unlimited-ride MetroCards to swipe it forward - use their cards to help low-income New Yorkers ride for free. NY1's Angi Gonzalez filed the following report.

Riders have known for months that it was coming, but the transit fare hike that just went into effect is generating strong opinions.

While the base fare remains at $2.75, Monday marked the first workday that the cost of monthly and weekly MetroCards went up, and the discount for buying a $10 MetroCard went down.

"It did make me upset because I am a student. I'm in college right now. So it's really hard just to pay for, just even $4 extra," 

As a form of protest, activists with the Swipe it Forward campaign set out to spread the word during a rally in Harlem, doling out free rides to show if you have an unlimited MetroCard, you can use it to help someone else get a free ride.

"We’re trying to, you know, do this as a form of resistance, and letting people know that it’s not wrong to be impoverished," said one activist. "$2.75 is a lot to pay to swipe."

Those behind the movement say part of the problem is the NYPD's commitment to enforcing low-level crimes like farebeating.

"We're trying to say stop broken window policing because it is unfairly targeting black and Latino communities, homeless folks, LGBT youth. So our most vulnerable communities are the ones that are targeted," said one activist.

Riders NY1 spoke with were split on whether they would use their own unlimited-ride cards to let some through the turnstile for free. 

"It's not illegal. It doesnt really cost me anything, cost me anything more on my monthly pass," said one rider.

"I don't do it now, but I see why other people would want to do it to help other people out," said another.

The MTA confirms it's illegal to sell a swipe, but not to give one away. But riders have to wait 18 minutes after swiping a card to swipe it again. So as a practical matter, they generally can swipe it forward only when they are leaving a station. 

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