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Mayor de Blasio denies reduced cost MetroCard funding for low-income New Yorkers

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The $50 million pilot program will have to find funds from somewhere else

Flickr/John St John

When City Council called for $50 million in funding to kickstart a pilot program that would provide half-priced MetroCards to low-income New Yorkers in April, Mayor Bill de Blasio wasn’t exactly thrilled. He commended the efforts but remained adamant that such a program should be funded by the state, given that it oversees all things MTA, and not the city. (You hear that, Cuomo?) And in keeping true to his beliefs, de Blasio has denied funding for the program in the 2018 fiscal budget, reports Gothamist.

Despite gaining the support of transit advocates and several local officials, including Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, Mayor de Blasio has been reluctant to fund the pilot program, or any variation of it, saying the city cannot afford it and that ultimately the MTA is the state’s responsibility.

The MTA doesn’t seem too interested in the program either, with agency spokeswoman Beth DeFalco saying that "the MTA already makes a substantial commitment to low-income city riders."

Nevertheless, Queens Councilman Rory Lancman is hoping that, at the very least, a bill requiring the NYPD to report data on fare evasion arrests and summonses will get passed. The bill Lancman is rooting for would require the police department to detail the race of the individual and the subway stations where they are caught skipping the toll. He believes the data would paint a “very unflattering picture” that proves his theory of fare evasion being “a crime of poverty.”

“People don't risk arrest for not paying a couple dollars [for] fare, unless that couple dollars really means a lot to them,” he told Gothamist. Lancman argues that the offense should be treated the same as a civil code violation and not a criminal offense.

The bill will make its rounds through City Hall and an NYPD spokesperson stated that the agency would review it and determine if it’s possible to collect the requested data.