The city says it will expand a program to provide half-priced MetroCards to low-income New Yorkers by January, after criticism that the initial rollout was going to help only a fraction of New Yorkers who needed the cheaper MetroCards the most.
The city said Monday that, by January 2020, it will expand open enrollment for the "Fair Fares" program to all New Yorkers at or below the federal poverty line. New Yorkers who previously qualified for the program would be able to recertify, the city said.
The program was initially only going to help a fraction of the 800,000 low-income New Yorkers who may be eligible for the discounted cards.
The city also announced Monday that New Yorkers eligible for the program in January 2020 can also get pay-per-rides at half the cost.
When the city rolled out the "Fair Fares" program in January, it said the first in line to get the half-priced MetroCards would be the 30,000 New Yorkers who receive cash assistance from the city. In April, the program was to grow to include the 130,000 New Yorkers who receive food stamps.
But the city wouldn't say when other low-income residents may get the cards, or who would be eligible, something advocates criticized officials for.
"We need a timeline that is quick, that is aggressive about implementing 'Fair Fares,'" said John Raskin of transit advocacy group Riders Alliance.
"I understand that reporters or anybody else might say, 'Why can't things be more instantaneous?' But you would also say, if something went wrong, 'Why did something go wrong?'" de Blasio said at the news conference annoucing the "Fair Fares" rollout. "We're trying to use the first 30,000 to make sure the whole system will work."
The city also said Monday it plans to launch a three-month advertising campaign to raise awareness of the “Fair Fares” program. The campaign will utilize social media, and Google keyword searches, targeting the top 25 New York City zip codes where there are large numbers of eligible individuals for the program.