MTA launches pilot program for Fair Fares discount on OMNY cards


After a long delay, transit riders who are part of New York City’s half-priced fare program will soon be able to tap-and-go. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Wednesday officially launched a Fair Fares pilot program on OMNY, allowing commuters who are part of the city’s half-priced fare program to use the contactless payment system. The 90-day pilot program starts with 50 Fair Fares riders and will allow the MTA to collect feedback and finalize a rollout for all qualifying customers later.

Fair Fares gives low-income New Yorkers who earn up to 120 percent of the federal poverty line 50 percent discounted MetroCards for subway, bus, and Access-A-Ride trips. The threshold was raised to 120 percent from 100 percent last year after Mayor Eric Adams announced a $200 million investment to expand Fair Fares.

Over 330,000 individuals are currently enrolled in the program, though roughly 800,000 New Yorkers are eligible to participate, according to Streetsblog.

Transit officials planned to incorporate the program into OMNY last year, but waited to ensure the system had enough vending machines for the new tap-payment cards. Officials believe the program’s expansion will help decrease fare evasion.

On Monday, the MTA announced the completion of its OMNY Card Vending Machine rollout pilot program, which, since October, has installed 39 machines at 25 stations with more activations scheduled for the near future.

“Transit needs to work financially for all New Yorkers. Last month we held the most expansive Day of Action for Fair Fares, because there are so many that rely on transit who do not realize they qualify for the discounted fare,” MTA Chief Customer Officer and Senior Advisor Shanifah Rieara said.

“This pilot is a major step in the right direction, and along with our City partners, will continue outreach to riders in every borough so they know benefits available to them including fare capping which would give them an even better deal.”

The transit agency aims to expand the program to all Fair Fares participants by the end of the year, as well as grade school students, NYC Transit President Richard Davey told Streetsblog.

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