Rally pushes for 'Fair Fares' discounted MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A rally was held on the steps of New York City Hall Wednesday to push for Mayor Bill de Blasio to fund a discounted MetroCard program to help hundreds of thousands of low-income riders.

The coordinators behind the event said it is a measure that is already in place in other major cities like San Francisco and Seattle.

"Every single month, I'm put in this ridiculous position of how am I going to afford a MetrCcard for me and my kids?" said Cynthia Kozikowksi, a Bronx mother of four. "There's been situations where I've had my kids go under the turnstile or get on the bus without swiping, and I've been stopped by the police."

If approved, "Fair Fares" would help almost 800,000 low-income city commuters.

The proposal is to cut fares in half to $1.35, saving the city's poorest about $700 a year.

The debate isn't whether there is a need for reduced fares, but where the funding will come from.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson has added the more-than-$200 million it will cost to fund the program to his budget proposal.

"$726 a year is the ability to pay for child care," he said. "It's the ability to pay for college textbooks. It could be a month's rent for someone."

But Mayor de Blasio says the city can't afford it.

"I understand the City Council wants to achieve something noble, but it's going to be a very straightforward conversation with them about the actual money we have available and how far it will reach," he said. "And I hope to show them that it's not going to be viable to do that with city resources, that's something that would have to be done with a new revenue stream."

De Blasio has said he wants to pay for the "Fair Fares" through the Millionaire's Tax, but that would have to be approved by state legislators.

City leaders adopt the new budget in June.

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