M.T.A. to Offer Free Rides for OMNY ‘Tap-and-Go’ Customers – The New York Times

By 2023, it will fully replace the transit system’s floppy yellow-and-blue MetroCards.

While capping the fare would add convenience and could save money for commuters who rely on single-fare rides, advocates caution that there are still drawbacks, pointing out that many low-income people do not have bank accounts or smartphones.

An OMNY card is also more expensive than a MetroCard — $5 compared with $1. It was unclear how fare capping would work with the city’s Fair Fares program, which provides certain low-income New Yorkers a 50 percent discount on public transit rides.

“Some of the broader issues around OMNY haven’t been discussed enough with regard to low-income New Yorkers,” said Emerita Torres, the vice president of policy, research and advocacy at the Community Service Society of New York, an antipoverty group. “That’s something that we have to study and really look at.”

Rosalino Tlatelpa said even if the fares were capped he would not use OMNY because he finds it too confusing. Mr. Tlatelpa, 76, and his wife, Rosa, are retired and receive about $1,100 per month in government aid.

“I don’t like it,” Mr. Tlatelpa said in Spanish as he and his wife entered the Parkside Avenue station to travel to a Covid-19 vaccine appointment.

Implementing the fare capping plan on a trial basis might result in a loss of fare revenue of $3 million to $5 million per month, Mr. Lieber said, but that could be offset with higher subway ridership.

People might be less hesitant about using the subway if they don’t have to do any math to figure out how much they are spending, Mr. Lieber said.

“It becomes more routine,” he said. “As you make the fare payment system easier and more rational and fairer, people tend to use it a little bit more rather than looking at every nickel and dime.”

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