July 2, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
The MTA’s Fair Fares program has been cut by $65 million in the new city budget.
The program subsidizes mass transit for low-income residents by applying a 50 percent discount on subway and eligible bus fares.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said that record-low MTA ridership during the pandemic – coupled with a $9 billion tax revenue shortfall – led to the decision to reduce funding for the program.
“It was an effective, important program,” the mayor said Tuesday before the council voted to approve his $88.1 billion executive budget.
House Speaker Corey Johnson — who helped launch the program with the mayor last year– said in a statement that the cut “right-sized” spending on the program to reflect under-enrollment during the pandemic.
The Fair Fares program received $106 million in each of the city’s last two budgets, according to the New York Daily News. The announcement means that it has now been cut to $41 million for FY2021.
Johnson said the move would not affect the number of candidates who qualify for the scheme. Around 800,000 city residents qualify for reduced MTA fares.
“Anyone who applies for a reduced-priced MetroCard and is eligible will still receive one,” he said.
The program was launched in early 2019 for residents receiving cash assistance and was expanded over the course of the year to include NYCHA residents, CUNY students and veteran students.
Open enrollment in the scheme began in January for city residents living at or below the federal poverty line—which is $12,760 for a single-person household or $21,720 for a family of three.
Nearly 193,000 people have signed up to the program so far, according to the New York Daily News