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Mayor de Blasio And Speaker Johnson Announce Expansion Of Fair Fares Program

March 4, 2019

City formally launching digital advertising campaign to reach more eligible New Yorkers

New York—Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Johnson today announced plans to expand the Fair Fares program, an unprecedented City effort to address poverty through the development of a half-priced MetroCard program for low-income New Yorkers.

Starting this fall, the City will expand the program to eligible New Yorkers in NYCHA, enrolled students at CUNY and military veterans below 100 percent of poverty line.

“We’re doing all we can to help low-income riders get around in a city that can be very difficult to afford. We think this program will go a long way toward making our city even fairer and we’re excited to expand this unprecedented initiative to more New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Fair Fares is a landmark program for New York City, helping the many New Yorkers who truly need it most. No New Yorker should have to choose between a swipe and a meal. Fair Fares is an example of our City’s commitment to providing equal opportunity for all. I am excited we are starting the outreach program, which will enable us to expand Fair Fares and help as many New Yorkers as possible. I thank Mayor de Blasio, my Council colleagues, and especially the tireless advocates for their support in making Fair Fares a reality for low-income New Yorkers and their families,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.

“We want a city where everyone, regardless of economic status, has the opportunity to thrive — including being able to get to important appointments, such as seeing a doctor or attending a job interview. This expansion shows our commitment to that vision. We will continue to work with the City Council to strengthen our Fair Fares program and to making New York City the fairest city in America,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr Herminia Palacio.

“For hardworking New Yorkers, simply getting to work should not be its own hardship,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “Building on our unprecedented Fair Fares initiative, we’re expanding eligibility and making it as easy as possible for New Yorkers in need to learn more about and participate in this innovative program. In our City, we’re leveling the playing field to ensure low-income New Yorkers have the resources they need to access opportunity and live thriving, productive lives, including meeting essential needs like attending school, seeking employment, and visiting the doctor—continuing to make New York the fairest big city in the nation.”

"Now Fair Fares will reach an even greater number of New Yorkers in need," said Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm. "Fair Fares makes bus and subway fares more affordable for thousands of low income people who rely upon mass transit each day.  The program has long been a priority of the Council. I am pleased to work alongside Speaker Johnson, Mayor de Blasio and transportation advocates across the city to expand this important effort.”

“Access to food, housing support, and health care are essential public benefits, and with this program, we’ll soon make sure that transportation is a benefit accessible to all too,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “I applaud the Mayor and the Speaker of the City Council for their work in bringing New Yorkers better transportation access and I look forward to the launch of the city’s online platform for eligible cash assistance and SNAP recipients in April, connecting more New Yorkers to the transportation access they deserve.”

"Working class and low-income New Yorkers, including students and veterans, will greatly benefit from the Fair Fares program expansion, which will include access to an online application and an open enrollment process by January 2020. I commend Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson and the advocate organizations for continuing to move this program forward. I am strongly committed as Chair of the Council's Committee on Transportation to advocate for annual budget funding for Fair Fares, which ultimately will allow the most vulnerable population of New Yorkers the option of swiping their MetroCard without compromising their next meal or spending on other basic necessities," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Committee on Transportation.

“The Community Service Society (CSS) applauds the announcement today by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson to expand the reach of Fair Fares to all New York City residents in poverty by January 2020,” said David R. Jones, President and CEO of CSS, the anti-poverty organization that first proposed half-priced fares and with Riders Alliance went on to lead a broad coalition to fight for this groundbreaking initiative. “The steps being taken today demonstrate the shared commitment by the Mayor, the Speaker, the City Council, and advocates to fulfill the program’s vision of making the turnstile the gateway to economic opportunity for all New Yorkers who are struggling to get ahead. This is progressive policymaking at its best.”

“With today's announcement, riders have their mayor's and their speaker's word that Fair Fares fair fares will continue to roll out to eligible low-income New Yorkers," said Riders Alliance Community Organizer Danna Dennis. “With each new phase of the program, we look forward to working closely with the administration and our allies to ensure its success. Thanks to Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Johnson for making our city fairer by championing Fair Fares and enrolling as many eligible New Yorkers as possible.”

In January 2020, City plans to launch an open enrollment process for all eligible New Yorkers at or below the Federal Poverty line who don’t have discounted transportation from the MTA or the City. Those who were previously enrolled in the program and are still eligible will be able to recertify and receive the benefit again. All other eligible applicants will be able to apply through an online platform.

The City is also pleased to announce the pay-per-ride option is launching ahead of schedule and will be available as an option mid-March.

As part of our efforts to reach more eligible New Yorkers, the City will also be formally launching a three month targeted online advertising campaign in March. Advertisements will appear across social media platforms and Google keyword searches, targeting the top 25 NYC zip codes where there are large numbers of eligible individuals to raise awareness of the Fair Fares program.

The City launched the first phase of the program in January. The Department of Social Services has been conducting outreach to over 45,000 eligible working New Yorkers who are receiving cash assistance and/or SNAP benefits. The City sent notifications, and subsequent telephone calls, to inform this first group of their eligibility and invite them to visit the nearest Fair Fares NYC location to receive their half-priced MetroCard. Eligible recipients can also call 311 to assist in receiving their card. The City is poised to launch its online platform for eligible cash assistance and SNAP recipients in April.

Last spring, the Mayor and Council announced a plan to fund $106 million for the Fair Fares NYC program in the first year. Funding for further expansion of the Fair Fares program will be subject to budget discussions.

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