Leslie’s Story

Leslie and son Tafari photoLeslie W. is a 44-year-old substitute teacher and Riders Alliance member from Central Harlem. She joined the fight for reduced fares for low-income riders because wants to see working people succeed. To her, the rising cost of transit “feels like an attack” on the poor, who have to balance a family, rent, and living their lives. Leslie describes herself as a “working class poor person.” On a $17,000 a year salary, she can barely make ends meet to support her 14 year old son. The rising cost of a MetroCard, which is a “big chunk” of her salary, forces Leslie to make tough decisions. For instance, there are times when she saves money on transit for the two of them by having her son slide under the turnstile. “I’m not proud of this,” she admits.

She’s also had to choose between a MetroCard and taking a job: “When I don’t have the fare, I don’t go to work.” That means Leslie loses out on the $138 she gets when she teaches a class. Even though she lives with her mother to help make ends meet, she sometimes has to ask her for help paying the subway fare, which she finds embarrassing. Other times she takes the bus because she can rely on the “kindness of drivers” to let her get on without a fare. To make matters worse, Leslie is trying to advance her career, but often has to forgo her Spanish classes because she can’t afford both the cost of the class and the MetroCard—she just doesn’t have the money.

Leslie wishes she didn’t have to “calculate everything” before leaving the apartment; “It really affects my quality of life,” she says. She wants to see working people have assistance with their MetroCards, because without assistance, she knows that “the hidden message is that the working poor should not be living in New York City.”


Join Leslie in the fight for #FairFares. Sign our petition to ask Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to support a program that would allow low-income families to purchase MetroCards at reduced rates. If you’re on Twitter, speak out for #FairFares:

Tweet: I’m fighting for #FairFares for low-income riders. Sign @RidersNY petition to @NYCMayor for #Transit4All ridersny.org/fairfares!