The subway system is New York’s greatest equalizer. No matter what your background is, it’s usually the quickest way to get around the city. But that sentiment goes out the window for those who cannot afford a monthly MetroCard in the first place. At $121, it’s not exactly cheap.
On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council approved a budget for fiscal year 2019, which includes a measure that will help fix this problem. Dubbed Fair Fares, the initiative will allocate $106 million in city funds to provide half-price MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers. The program is modeled after the Human Resource Administration’s cash assistance and SNAP programs, both of which are essential services for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. It will kick off at the start of 2019, by which time the city will establish a set of eligibility requirements.
“Coupled with other investments, this budget agreement keeps the city on track to becoming the fairest big city in America,” a statement from De Blasio’s office on the budget says, seemingly ignoring the fact that New York has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the country.
While the budget does make the subway more accessible for a huge swath of New Yorkers, its highlights do not include the kinds of subway funding that Governor Andrew Cuomo and the mayor’s office have quibbled over for more than a year. The move puts the ball in Cuomo’s court when it comes to funding the mega-expensive plan to fix the subway proposed by New York City Transit president Andy Byford last month.
So while the subway might not run any better any time soon, at least it’ll be cheaper for those who need it the most.