NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There’s a new city-run program coming in the new year to help low-income New Yorkers, but no one seems to know about it.
Half-price MetroCards are supposed to be available on January 1 as part of the Fair Fares program, but advocates say it’s not being rolled out fairly at all. Its announcement was met with celebration in June, with $106 million set aside in the city’s budget to cover the discounted cards in 2019 for some.
“We really have to make sure there is opportunity, and we have focused on that,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the time.
Six months later, with only days before the program’s scheduled rollout, there’s no information available on how to sign up. Advocates for low-income New Yorkers say most riders don’t even know about it.
“I feel like they don’t want to,” Washington Heights resident Chelsea Castillo said. “They’d just rather everyone pay full price.”
MTA board member David Jones says the agency supports the idea. He also heads one of the 38 non-profits that championed the program, and says he tried asking the city several times how it would be rolled out.
Each time, he received no response.
“We’re concerned that they really haven’t done the publicity necessary to inform people how they would go about applying,” he said. “We’re particularly concerned because while this would be a help to the working poor. People who are security guards, or attendants or child care workers this could be a major boost to their income.”
The City Council Chair of the Transportation Committee Ydanis Rodriguez (D-10th) says he’s also asked the mayor for answers.
“Why they have taken so long? Why didn’t they start putting the pieces in place so we can give in 2019 the best gift to New Yorkers,” he said.
De Blasio on Friday assured they fully intend to roll the program out next month.
“Don’t worry, the word will spread quickly,” the mayor said on WNYC Radio. “I assure you.”
A spokesperson for the city’s Human Resources Administration wouldn’t confirm if the program will definitely launch on January 1.