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New Yorkers urge de Blasio to support half-price MetroCards for low-income commuters

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Transit advocates are urging commuters to call the mayor’s office and demand support for Fair Fares

Via William Perugini/Shutterstock

With the city’s annual budget expected to pass in June, transit advocates are inviting the public to join in on efforts to get Fair Fares, a proposed reduced-fare MetroCard program that would benefit low-income New Yorkers, passed.

The Riders Alliance has launched a week-long grassroots campaign called “Call the Mayor” and is asking commuters to do just that. Partnering with civil right organizers, anti-poverty groups, and transit advocates, the Riders Alliance is heading to various subway stations and bus stops in an effort to recruit hundreds of riders to call the mayor’s office and ask him to adopt Fair Fares. Last week, Council Speaker Corey Johnson called for the same initiative, releasing a video that encouraged New Yorkers to may their voices heard in support of the initiative.

The program has received a significant amount of support and even Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted that it’s a great idea—so long as the city doesn’t have to pay for it. However, last month, the City Council proposed allocating $212 million from the city’s budget to fund the program after more than half of its members penned a letter to Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Finance Committee Chair Daniel Dromm, affirming their support for Fair Fares.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has been advocating for other methods of public transportation, which includes his new ferry system and the already delayed Brooklyn-Queens streetcar that’s been proposed (but it’s funding sources remain unclear). However, he has made it clear that all things subway-related should be dealt with by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who oversees the MTA. But city officials aren’t buying it.

“I don’t understand how you can justify subsidizing $6.60 for every ferry ride, but not helping people who live in poverty get on the train,” said Council speaker Corey Johnson at a recent hearing, reports the New York Times.

Members from the Community Service Society and the Riders Alliance have set up phone calling stations and are providing riders with prepaid phones to contact the mayor’s office. Additionally, postcards in both English and Spanish, with directions on how to call the mayor, are being dispersed. You can also voice your support for Fair Fares online.