MTA launches OMNY card fair fare discount pilot program

After lengthy delays, bus riders participating in New York City's half-price fare program will soon be able to tap and go. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority officially launched its Fair Fare Pilot Program on OMNY on Wednesday, allowing commuters participating in the city’s half-price fare program to use the contactless payment system. The 90-day pilot program, starting with 50 Fair Fares riders, will allow the MTA to collect feedback and finalize its rollout to all eligible customers.

Fair Fares offers low-income New Yorkers with incomes up to 120% of the federal poverty level a 50% discount on MetroCards for subway, bus and Access-A-Ride travel. That threshold was raised to 120 percent from 100 percent last year after Mayor Eric Adams announced a $200 million investment to expand fair fares.

According to Streetsblog, more than 330,000 people are currently enrolled in the program, but approximately 800,000 New Yorkers are eligible.

Transit officials planned to bring the program to OMNY last year but have been waiting to ensure the system has enough vending machines to install the new tapless payment cards. Officials believe the expansion of the program will help reduce fare evasion.

On Monday, the MTA announced the completion of its OMNY card vending machine pilot program, with 39 machines installed at 25 stations since October, with plans to launch more machines in the near future.

“Transit needs to provide financial support for all New Yorkers. Last month, we held our largest Fair Fares Day of Action because so many people who rely on public transit didn't realize they were eligible for discounted fares.

“This pilot is an important step in the right direction and together with our city partners we will continue to educate passengers in every borough so they understand the benefits they can receive, including fare caps, which will will bring them better offers.

New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Richard Davey told Streetsblog that the department's goal is to expand the program to all Fair Fares participants as well as elementary school students by the end of the year.


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