The MTA should provide free subway rides to all New Yorkers for a week to gin up economic activity this Memorial Day, mayoral candidate Andrew Yang said Tuesday.
But the cash-strapped transit agency quickly hit back by suggesting the former Democratic presidential hopeful would need to write a check to cover the cost himself.
“What we need to do is we need to let everyone know that New York is back, and that the subway is the best way to get around,” Yang told reporters at a press conference outside Manhattan’s West 110th Street subway station.
“A summer fare holiday is going to be a fantastic way to signal that our city is open, and get people back on mass transit at a time when we need to do just that.”
Under Yang’s proposal, the MTA would provide free subway rides for a week beginning the Friday before Memorial Day in order to boost businesses for merchants across the city, who been financially devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The candidate said his plan would cost the perennially-broke MTA a cool $35 million. He claimed the increased economic activity would “get that money back that week,” without specifying how that money would reach MTA coffers.
About five million New Yorkers should be vaccinated by Memorial Day, which falls on May 31 this year, Yang noted.
“I want you to think about what this will mean for all of New York,” he explained.
“All of these families that have been cooped up for months and months will say, ‘Wait a minute, it’s beautiful outside, the subway is free, let’s go to Coney Island, let’s go to the Rockaways, let’s go to Manhattan, let’s remember all of the incredible things about New York City.’”
Yang leads in polls for June’s Democratic primary — but if elected, he would not have the power to adjust fares, which are determined by the MTA’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo-appointed leadership and board of directors.
One of Yang’s campaign platforms is bringing the transit agency under city control.
The MTA itself remains in a tight financial position despite billions of dollars expected from the COVID-19 relief bill, agency spokesman Andrei Berman told The Post.
New York City Transit is bringing in just $28 million per week from subway and bus fares, Berman said — a significant decrease from before COVID-19.
“If Andrew Yang can write us a check or get the philanthropic or private support to fund this approximately $30M initiative, we will gladly consider it,” Berman said. “The MTA is committed to leading New York’s recovery just as we have carried New York forward through the pandemic.”