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More low-income NYC residents would be eligible for reduced subway, bus fares under City Council speaker’s plan

Struggling New Yorkers could soon catch a break on subway and bus fares under a plan proposed by a top City Council leader.

Council Speaker Adrienne Adams is expected to call for an expansion of the city’s Fair Fares program in her State of the City address Wednesday afternoon.

The program, which launched in 2019, offers half-fare subway and bus rides to New Yorkers under the federal poverty line.

Adams is expected Wednesday to put the weight of her office behind expanding eligibility to all New Yorkers making less than twice the federal poverty threshold.

Fair Fares gained support from Mayor Adams last year when he and the speaker struck a deal to fund the program to the tune of $75 million.

Enrollment has remained low, however, with roughly 280,000 New Yorkers signing up for the half-off transit fares.

Currently, a family of four would have to make less than $30,000 to be eligible for the discount.

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Advocates say Speaker Adams’ plan, which would expand eligibility to a four-person household making less than $60,000 — or an individual making less than $29,160 — expands the Fair Fares program to the working poor who need it most.

“These are the folks who are the most transit-dependent,” said Danna Dennis, a senior organizer with Riders Alliance. “Folks are hungry. They’re desperate. They’re surviving on very little.”

“Rent, food, child care and transportation costs are approaching all time highs,” she added. “Speaker Adams’ expansion proposal would put several hundred dollars back in the pockets of the New Yorkers who most need a break.”

According to an estimate from Adams’ office, the proposed expansion would make some 1.7 million working-age New Yorkers eligible for the assistance.

The proposal comes amid expectations of a transit fare increase within months.

Gov. Hochul’s proposed MTA budget assumes a 5.5% fare hike, which could set the price of a subway ride at $2.90. And MTA chair Janno Lieber has warned of even higher fares should the Governor’s budget fail to garner votes in Albany.

A spokesperson for Adams said she hopes to push through the expansion within the year.

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