New York, NY – Today, New York City Council Speaker Adrienne E. Adams, Council Finance Committee Chair Justin Brannan, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, General Welfare Committee Chair Diana Ayala, Majority Leader Keith Powers, and other Council Members called on Mayor Eric Adams to baseline funding for the Fair Fares initiative at its previous full level in his Fiscal Year 2023 Preliminary Budget. This would institutionalize funding in the city budget, so inclusion of the vital program that makes the public transit system accessible and affordable to low-income New Yorkers no longer is the subject of negotiation. Fair Fares, which provides half-price MetroCards to New Yorkers with incomes up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level, was originally funded at $106 million in Fiscal Year 2020, but had been reduced to $53 million in the most recent budget. The Council also urged greater outreach efforts to connect eligible New Yorkers to Fair Fares, kicking off an effort to secure the funding and raise public awareness of the program. 

“Fair Fares, a signature achievement of the previous City Council, remains a priority of mine and this Council,” said Speaker Adrienne E. Adams. “It is imperative that public transportation be accessible, affordable, and equitable for all New Yorkers, and baselining Fair Fares in the budget can help ensure low-income residents are prioritized in our city’s transit system as we seek to reinvigorate our ridership. We urge Mayor Adams to recognize this need to institutionalize Fair Fares funding at its original level in his upcoming preliminary budget, while supporting a robust outreach effort to enroll more New Yorkers in the program that we can all partner in accomplishing.” 

“Fair Fares NYC has changed lives for many low-income New Yorkers, which is why under the leadership of Speaker Adams, the Council is committed to supporting and ensuring the continuation of the program,” said Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala, Chair of the Committee on General Welfare. “For many it has lifted a weight off their shoulders and it’s one less thing they have to worry about as they struggle to make ends meet. We urge the administration to partner with us and baseline the program to the previous level of full funding and ensure Fair Fares NYC is made permanent in the city budget.” 

Majority Leader Keith Powers stated: “Public transportation is the backbone of our city, but too many New Yorkers can’t afford a MetroCard. I’m proud to be a longtime supporter of Fair Fares, and support Speaker Adams in calling on the Mayor to provide baseline funding for the program. I commend Speaker Adams for her attention to this important issue,  and urge the Mayor to take action.” 

Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said: “Ensuring our most vulnerable residents have access to affordable, reliable, safe, and clean transportation is essential. As the Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, baselining and increasing awareness of the Fair Fares program ensures all New Yorkers can utilize our transit system, especially as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. I applaud Speaker Adrienne E. Adams for her leadership and advocacy to ensure low-income New Yorkers have equitable access to New York’s vast transportation system, without increased financial burden.” 

“New York City can’t just recover. We must come back stronger than ever. But our resurgence relies on our workforce, many still contending with aftershocks of the economic earthquake wrought by COVID,” said Council Member Justin Brannan, Chair of the Committee on Finance. “We need to get back to work, and for most of us, the first step is getting on a bus or a train. We need to make sure New Yorkers can afford their rides. Baseline funding for Fair Fares is a crucial part of the formula for our comeback. No one should have to choose between a meal and a MetroCard.” 

Council Member Gale Brewer said: “I join Speaker Adams and my colleagues in calling for the Mayor to make the ‘Fair Fares’ program permanent and to baseline the previous level of full funding for the program. By reducing the cost of travel on mass transit, New Yorkers who fall under the poverty level and are struggling can access jobs and other necessary appointments on a daily basis with less stress about their household budget. I thank the Community Service Society and Riders’ Alliance for advocating for this program and now it must be funded to reach its potential of 800,000 riders.” 

“Making New York a fairer and just city means a city that is accessible to all,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca. “Outside of housing, access to public transportation is a critical connection to every component of our day-to-day lives. Restoring Fair Fares to its full funding means not asking New Yorkers to choose between buying food for their family and paying for a MetroCard.” 

Council Member Crystal Hudson stated: “Fair Fares is New York’s ticket to a more just and equitable transportation system. It is a step toward ensuring our public transit network is accessible and open to all, regardless of income, and it is a step toward eventually making public transit free for all. I am proud to stand with Speaker Adams in calling for Fair Fares to be baselined in the upcoming preliminary budget.” 

Council Member Alexa Avilés said: “At a time when many New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet and our city is trying to get riders back into our transit system, we must employ the right tools. That’s why I encourage the Mayor to restore and baseline Fair Fares at its pre-pandemic funding levels. I’m committed to doing the work to make sure residents know about and enroll in the program, and I believe we should fully fund Fair Fares so that all 750,000 currently eligible New Yorkers can take advantage of half-priced MetroCards.” 

Council Member Tiffany Cabán stated: “I applaud the Speaker for calling for this vital investment in the Fair Fares program. New Yorkers have a right to our public transit system, and we should treat our neighbors who are short on cash as human beings with dignity, rather than criminalizing them. Poverty-reducing measures like Fair Fares are exactly the path toward making our city safer, healthier, and more just.” 

Council Member Amanda Farías, a Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus who represents a neighborhood that has one of the highest number of residents with incomes that qualify them for the program, said: “The ability to move throughout this City freely should not be a luxury, but a right. This is why I support baselining funding for Fair Fares, one of our City’s most expansive and inclusive programs. Not only does it take into account the intersectionality of transit equity, but also puts a focus on serving the needs of low-income New Yorkers and outer borough communities like mine, who rely on public transit the most. Cost must never be a barrier to accessibility, and it is our jobs as representatives to make sure we provide this essential service – for everyone. Thank you to Speaker Adrienne Adams for your leadership, my colleagues for their continued support, and to Mayor Eric Adams for his continued and tireless work for the City of New York.” 

Council Member Rita Joseph stated: “Fair Fares is an absolutely vital resource for working-class New Yorkers, and its funding must be baselined in the upcoming preliminary budget. Failing to do so will irreparably harm the low-income communities that have been hit hardest by COVID. Mayor Adams, I urge you to fully fund Fair Fairs in this upcoming preliminary budget.” 

Council Member Linda Lee said: “The continuation of Fair Fares will prevent the most needy New Yorkers in District 23 from being phased out of their last remaining transit option. My district is one of the only areas without access to rail, subway, or ferry service, and if you can’t afford a car your only remaining alternative is the bus. I encourage the Mayor to fully fund this program and increase transit equity in Eastern Queens so that every New Yorker can afford to get around our city.” 

Council Member Mercedes Narcisse stated: “The Fair Fares program has been a vital resource for lower-income New Yorkers. As the economy continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that we protect and fully fund this now essential program. That is why I am joining with Speaker Adrienne Adams to urge Mayor Adams to baseline funding for Fair Fares which has been tested and proven to bring transportation equity to over 250,000 New Yorkers in need.” 

Council Member Lincoln Restler said: “With costs rising across the board for working New Yorkers from housing to utility bills to inflation, it is more important than ever that the City of New York guarantees reduced priced MetroCards for low-income residents. Fair Fares makes our subway and bus system more progressive and just and I am proud to enthusiastically support the call to baseline funding for it. I thank Speaker Adams for her leadership on this important issue for New York City.” 

Council Member Carlina Rivera stated: “The New York City subway is supposed to be our great equalizer, connecting New Yorkers with family, friends, and opportunity — but for so many New Yorkers, transit costs can amount to as much as 10 percent of their budget, putting an often insurmountable financial burden on families. In our pursuit of a just recovery, we must ensure those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic are guaranteed equitable access to transit. I join Speaker Adams in urging the Mayor to fully fund Fair Fares in the preliminary budget, so we can build on our past success in easing the financial burden of this most essential public good.” 

Council Member Pierina Sánchez stated: “Ease of mobility through our great City allows New Yorkers to reach schools, jobs, essential medical care and programs to support their growth. Yet in our high-cost city, fares are still unaffordable to many. I look forward to working with the new mayoral administration to baseline the previous level of funding for the Fair Fares program in the Preliminary Budget, and to make it a permanent part of the city budget each year. As Council Members, we can support the Mayor with local outreach, knocking on doors, canvassing the streets to ensure every New Yorker who qualifies knows about the program.”  

Council Member Althea Stevens said, “Employing Fair Fares as a starting point, we can gradually alleviate poverty challenges across the five boroughs. Fair Fares is another step forward in our efforts to establish sustainability in our city, as it would allow everyone to utilize our mass transit systems at its full capacity.” 

Council Member Julie Won stated: “Transit affordability and transit accessibility are one and the same. The Mayor must commit to baselining the Fair Fares program to guarantee a pathway for all New Yorkers to travel around the city. We must see this as a first step towards making public transit truly equitable and build on this work during this council session.” 

Council Member Marjorie Velázquez said: “I commend Speaker Adams for prioritizing Fair Fares.  It’s essential we promote these programs that can benefit so many New Yorkers and ensure a more affordable public transportation system. As a member of the Transportation Committee and the Chair of the Consumer & Worker Protection Committee, I hope to see this investment in the Preliminary Budget and to build a more equitable transit system for all.” 

Fair Fares is a New York City program established to help low-income New Yorkers cover public transportation costs by providing 50 percent-discounted rides. The program was first funded in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget, thanks to the advocacy of the previous City Council and organizations like the Community Service Society and Riders Alliance, in partnership with former Mayor de Blasio. The city’s most recently reported figures indicate 262,128 New Yorkers have enrolled in the program. Based on 2019 Census data, approximately 700,000 New Yorkers are in the qualifying age range and income level that would make them eligible for the program.