Today’s announcement still leaves out the majority of the estimated 800,000 residents living below the poverty line who were originally promised half-price MetroCards

(New York, NY) — Following today’s announcement regarding the next steps in launching the Fair Fares program, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released data that spotlights the estimated 800,000 New Yorkers who were originally promised half-price MetroCards beginning on January 1, 2019. However, the City has significantly scaled back initial eligibility to just a small subset of Cash Assistance and SNAP recipients, leaving out hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers living below the poverty line who will continue to face a significant financial burden to purchase a MetroCard.

“The good news is that Fair Fares is finally leaving the station. The bad news is that after today’s announcement, the price of a MetroCard will remain an obstacle for the vast majority of the 800,000 New Yorkers who were originally promised relief. That’s hundreds of thousands of families who will still struggle to get to work or a job interview because they can’t afford a full fare. For their sake, we need to make sure this delay doesn’t become a derailment,” said Comptroller Stringer.

When the $106 million program was originally announced as part of the Fiscal Year 2019 City budget, Fair Fares was intended to provide half-priced MetroCards to 800,000 adult New Yorkers living below the poverty line – $25,100 for a family of four.

Comptroller Stringer’s office took a look at those families and found the following:

  • Nearly 300,000 potentially eligible New Yorkers live in just 12 community districts, with over 50% residing in Brooklyn or the Bronx;
  • 60% are either unemployed or struggling to find a job;
  • 79% are people of color;
  • 58% are women;
  • 77% do not have an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree;
  • 52% were born abroad; and
  • 44% are parents living with children in their home.

Below is a complete breakdown of the data:

Community District

Belmont, Crotona Park East & East Tremont 30,898
Washington Heights, Inwood & Marble Hill 30,763
Hunts Point, Longwood & Melrose 29,537
Morris Heights, Fordham South & Mount Hope 26,885
Flushing, Murray Hill & Whitestone 24,834
Concourse, Highbridge & Mount Eden 21,784
Castle Hill, Clason Point & Parkchester 21,732
Sunset Park & Windsor Terrace 21,470
Borough Park, Kensington & Ocean Parkway 20,173
Bedford Park, Fordham North & Norwood 19,576
East Harlem 19,464
East New York & Starrett City 18,846

By Borough

Population %
Bronx 186,348 23%
Brooklyn 268,679 33%
Manhattan 147,936 18%
Queens 174,423 22%
Staten Island 28,511 4%

Unemployment Status

Employment Status Number
Employed 319,626
Unemployed 110,203
Not in labor force 376,068


Ethnicity Race Number %
Hispanic 312,635 39%
White 165,568 21%
Black/African American 180,799 22%
Asian 131,602 16%
Other 15,293 2%


  Number %
No High School Degree 207,258 26%
Only HS Degree 297,847 37%
HS Degree + Some College 114,364 14%
Associates Degree 45,254 6%
College Degree 141,174 18%



Number %
Male 336,977 42%
Female 468,920 58%



  Number %
Foreign Born 417,574 52%
Born in the United States 388,323 48%


  Number %
American Born 388,323 48%
Born abroad of American parents 7,681 1%
Naturalized citizen 145,667 18%
Not a citizen 264,226 33%


English Language Skills Number %
Does not speak English 60,347 7%
Yes, speaks only English 312,061 39%
Yes, speaks very well 210,312 26%
Yes, speaks well 101,821 13%
Yes, but not well 121,356 15%


  Number %
Live with own Children in the Home 353,974 44%
No Children in the Home 451,923 56%

Note: This data corresponds to the pool of eligible recipients identified in the “The Transit Affordability Crisis,” the 2016 report that launched the Fair Fares campaign.