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MTA Board Meeting Testimony-“Opportunity to Make Fair Fares, Fare Policy and New Fare Payment Options A Triple Treat for Riders”

Good morning, I’m Lisa Daglian, Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, PCAC.

At Monday’s super-Committee meeting, we heard about the great potential for the changes coming to OMNY with the actions you will take today. The new system:

  • Is a critical enabler of fare integration and rationalization.
  • Will allow cross modal fare offerings, providing more functionality and the ability for discounts — you know we like that!
  • Will let riders use and transfer between the railroads and Transit, requiring fare policy discussions and decisions at the Board level.

Commissioner Valdivia asked when the right time is to start those fare policy conversations. We resolutely contend that the time is now.

Better integrating the railroads and Transit will allow millions of riders to take advantage of all the MTA system has to offer. The best way to entice people onboard is by offering them discounts and fare promotions; we’re particularly partial to things like CityTicket with free or discounted transfers to subways and buses. We know the functionality exists, or soon will, so let’s get riders excited by considering discounts now. And yes, let’s see how we can fund them through the OBTA.

Another critical way to improve equity and affordability is by increasing the eligibility for Fair Fares to 200-percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Our new study shows that would make an additional 650,000 New Yorkers eligible for Fair Fares.

Every Council district around the city would see an increase in eligible riders. What a tremendous relief that would be to so many New Yorkers! The Community Service Society estimates it would cost the city about $55 million to fund this critical increase. To bring it to the LIRR and Metro-North within the city, as we have been advocating, would cost perhaps $5 million more.

Raising the eligibility to 200-percent of the Federal Poverty Level would make Fair Fares more fair for more people. This was a key recommendation of the Blue Ribbon panel on fare evasion, on which I served. It makes sense and will make a difference, and we urge the Mayor to work with the Council to get stuff done for riders.