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NYC subway riders' group starts photo campaign for discounted MetroCards

"People shouldn’t have to think through elaborate calculations, walk miles in the heat or forgo meals to get around."

In an effort to make public transportation more accessible for low-income New Yorkers, an organization of transit riders has started a photo campaign to call attention to the sacrifices some passengers have to make in order to afford a MetroCard.

On Wednesday, Riders Alliance, a collection of subway and bus riders who push for better service at affordable fares, launched a tour of subway stations in low-income neighborhoods, collecting photos in a "photo petition" for Mayor Bill de Blasio, the group stated. In the photos, passengers revealed why they needed more affordable MetroCards.

"We are out here to show Mayor de Blasio the stories of New Yorkers for whom a discount fare would make all the difference," said Rebecca Bailin, campaign manager at Riders Alliance. "People shouldn’t have to think through elaborate calculations, walk miles in the heat or forgo meals to get around."

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The photo petition, part of Riders Alliance’s Fair Fares campaign, began Wednesday with pictures of passengers at the 149th Street-Grand Concourse station in the Bronx, which is in a neighborhood marked by high levels of poverty, the group stated. In the photos, riders described going without food in order to cover their MetroCard costs.

"That an entire population of New Yorkers is unable to use our subways and buses without resorting to these difficult choices means that we are denying communities the only link they have to economic opportunity, medical care and New York City’s culture," Bailin added. "But it doesn’t have to be this way, and Mayor de Blasio can help struggling New Yorkers get ahead."

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Low-income New Yorkers were the segment of the population most dependent on public transportation, and the cost of a MetroCard could take up a full 10 percent of individuals’ budgets, according to a report from the independentCommunity Service Society, an organization that works to address economic disparity.

"There have been times where I had to hop on the back of the bus because I didn’t have enough money to get to class — and it’s not just me," Christine Guillaume, a Riders Alliance member, was quoted by the group. "I hope these photos will help Mayor de Blasio see the faces of struggling New Yorkers."

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