Senator’s Discounted Fare Plan Halted


With never-ending MTA fare hikes, Senator Chuck Schumer is trying to reduce the costs of students’ commute. (Ged Carroll via Flickr)


“I’ve spent less money on food this semester than I have on transportation,” Demetrios Stratis, FCLC ’19, said.

 Stratis commutes to Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) from Whitestone, a town on the outskirts of Queens, on the QM2 bus, which is part of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) transit system. This particular bus costs $6.50 one-way, so Stratis spends $13.00 a day on transportation.

“It’s a bit ridiculous that the city [charges] $6.50. I’m a student, I have to get into the city and I’m spending so much money on the commuting aspect. It’s a lot,” Stratis said.

Yet the trials and tribulations of commuter students—and New York City college students in general—regarding intracity transit expenses have not gone unnoticed by Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-New York).

A Park Slope Patch article reported last month that Schumer proposed legislation, dubbed the University Transit Rider Innovation Program (UTRIP), aimed to implement an incentive strategy that would reward supplemental funding to transit organizations—of New York City and potential other metropolitan areas across the country—for providing a 25 percent minimum discounted fare to two and four-year college and graduate students.

The legislation would greatly benefit students at both Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) and Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH). Though complementary Ram Van (the intercampus transportation service) passes are provided to students taking classes or participating in extracurricular activities at the campus on which they do not live, residential and commuter students often travel from one campus to the other for a myriad of reasons, all of which are valued at $5.50 round-trip via the subway and $7.00 round-trip via the Ram Van. New fare-reducing legislation could potentially decrease Fordham students’ usage of the Ram Van.

Residential student Lydia Culp, FCLC ’19, had a very visceral response when learning about UTRIP. “I spend so much [money] on the stupid train,” Culp said.

Culp takes part in a service-learning course that requires 30 hours of service for the semester. Her service placement is in the neighborhood of Chelsea and she must take the subway to get there. She would love to return next semester, but she believes she will have to limit her volunteering due to transit fare.

Stratis’ case opens another question about the extent to which the MTA’s services sufficiently cover all areas of New York. According to Stratis, the train station nearest to him is about an hour away.

He said of the bill, “This is a great idea … From what I know about the MTA, they have a lot of problems with funding. That’s another story, but just in general, reducing the price for college students is a must.”

Unfortunately for New York City college students, Schumer’s bill may take some time to pass. According to a statement on Senator Schumer’s website from November 9th, an amendment to the “recently passed House transportation bill…completely defunds a critical mass transit program,” an act counterintuitive to the objective of UTRIP.

Schumer’s idea behind his bill is to alleviate some of the financial burden so many Americans experience while pursuing higher education.

Schumer noted in the Patch article, “In today’s global marketplace, there are few things more important than a college education, but that is getting more and more expensive all the time. Making that education a little more affordable for families and students via a well-targeted plan to defray high commuting costs makes all the sense in the world and is an investment that will pay huge dividends down the line for the students we help–and our whole economy.”

An unlimited 30-day MetroCard costs $116.50 per month, $1,300 per year for those who make the purchase each month. That price could “go down to $975 and maybe more,” according to the Patch, if Schumer’s plan is a success.

In order for Schumer’s legislation to have a chance at passing, the original funds he was working so vigorously to increase must be reinstated. He is aggressively working to urge his colleagues to restore the cuts before proceeding with his bill.