Riders Alliance member Samuel Santaella is an unemployed 22 year-old Queens resident. Born in Venezuela, he came to the United States in 1996. He has experienced poverty his entire life and is saddened by the way it limits him. For instance, he badly wants to go to college but cannot afford tuition. But the biggest frustration for Samuel, who is involved in various advocacy organizations and loves to explore, is that poverty inhibits his ability to move freely throughout the city because he cannot afford his own MetroCard.
In 2013, Samuel, his mother, and his 10-year-old sister landed in the shelter system. “That’s when things got really difficult,” he says. The family would share one 30 day unlimited MetroCard among them—a practice they continue to this day. This means that only one person in the family can leave home at a time. While they were in the shelter, Samuel didn’t even have access to a bike, so if his mother was taking his little sister to school, he’d have to walk. Everywhere. He describes a 40 minute walk to the nearest affordable grocery store and the experience of having to lug heavy groceries back to the shelter even in bad weather. “And forget fun,” he says, “I felt pretty trapped in those days.” Last fall, Samuel’s family was able to move out of the shelter system. Still, even now he is on “lockdown” when his mother has to use the monthly MetroCard.
Samuel joined the Riders Alliance to fight for reduced fares for low-income riders because he knows what it is like to have nothing: “I want people who struggle to be able to get on the train so they can get their shopping done, go to work, school and even have fun and see friends.”
Join Samuel 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, show your support for #FairFares:
Tweet: I’m fighting for #FairFares for low-income riders. Sign @RidersNY petition to @deBlasioNYC for #Transit4All ridersny.org/fairfares!