No, according to the dozens of homeless men who daily use the M35 in Harlem to and from their homeless shelters on Wards Island.
When your livelihood consists of pan-handling for change, dropping what may take hours to earn for a single ride seems like a cruel requirement. Two dollars is a lot of money for the people who live in the shelters, and many of the MTA drivers who cover the M35 route agree.
So they’ve stopped charging them, suggesting that they instead drop a single penny in the box as a show of good faith (and to at least appear like they’re paying to ride the bus).
But that doesn’t mean the NYPD can’t or will not arrest someone for not paying, if they are caught. Still, according to David Greene, during a demonstration on June 5th by half-a-dozen people from Picture the Homeless, a non-profit homeless advocacy group, police officers witnessed several people board the bus without paying the full fare but chose not to arrest them. Greene speculates that this may be simply because a photojournalist was present.
The Department of Homeless Services says it distributes about 150 MetroCards to residents of Wards Island’s four shelters, and Volunteers for America, which runs three shelters, says it also helps in the effort.
But clearly, the efforts aren’t enough if people are still protesting, or worse, immobilized by a prohibitive fare.
Stay tuned for updates on this topic next week, here on Awearness.