By Jonathan Sperling
It’s fare and square.
Reducing transit fares by way of programs such as the city’s Fair Fares initiative greatly benefits low-income residents without overcrowding transit, a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study has found.
In a Boston-based study, MIT researchers divided a group of 240 SNAP benefits recipients into experimental and control groups. The experimental group received half-price transit fare cards and took 30 percent more transit rides than members of the control group. Reduced-fare recipients were also more likely than members of the control group to use transit to access healthcare and social services, according to the study.
Additionally, by increasing their transit use primarily before and after the morning rush, the experimental group did not significantly increase peak hour crowding.
Riders Alliance, the straphanger advocacy group, lauded the study’s results as proof of how beneficial the New York City’s Fair Fares program could be for low-income New Yorkers.
“As the City ramps up Fair Fares, this study proves what we already know: Fair Fares will be a life saver for many New Yorkers. Our members have already started to call me to tell me that the money they have saved has gone towards household bills,” Riders Alliance Community Organizer Danna Dennis said in a statement.
Dennis added that the expansion of Fair Fares through January 2020 will “mean fewer New Yorkers who have to choose between meals, employment or medical care and their MetroCards.”
Fair Fares, currently in its second phase, provides nearly 60,000 New Yorkers with a 50 percent discount on subway and eligible bus fares if they meet certain requirements. Besides a maximum income requirement, recipients must be a New York City resident between the ages of 18 and 64, currently employed and receiving SNAP and/or cash assistance from the NYC Human Resources Administration.
Residents who think they might be eligible for the Fair Fares NYC MetroCard can log on to ACCESS HRA at nyc.gov/accesshra to check their eligibility status.