In its latest budget proposal, City Council is calling for $50 million in funding for a pilot program that would offer discount MTA fares for low-income New Yorkers. The program, already named “Fair Fares,” holds the potential to alleviate a bit of financial burden for some 800,000 eligible city residents, including 72,000 City University of New York (CUNY) students, and while transit advocates along with lawmakers have shown significant support for the idea, Mayor Bill de Blasio doesn’t think the program is something the city should have to pay for, reports the New York Daily News (h/t DNAinfo).
While the mayor acknowledges the good intentions behind the push to offer poverty-stricken New Yorkers MetroCards at half price, he states that it would cost the city over $200 million, a price that cannot be afforded. Since the governor controls the MTA, de Blasio argues that the state should be charged with paying for the program.
“The pilot program, like the original proposal, is a noble one, but the mayor has been very clear: the MTA is the responsibility of the state and they should consider funding the program,” a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office told the Daily News.
Even if the cost was less, de Blasio still would want the state to pick up the tab. However, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez doesn’t care who pays for the program, so long as it materializes. “I agree with the mayor — this should be a state investment — but we cannot wait for the state or the MTA to bring the discount,” he stated.
The budget proposal also calls for public funding to bring Citi Bike to parts of Upper Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island. This is the first time that public funds have been requested for the privately owned bike share service. The budget, which is asking for $12 million to support the expansion, says that public funding is the only way to bring Citi Bike into all five boroughs. If approved, the city could add another 2,000 bikes into its portfolio.