Murphy backs bill extending MTA's half-fare program to vets

ALBANY, NEW YORK - Like all of us, Senator Terrence Murphy knows we are indebted to our veterans. To help veterans, Senator Murphy and his fellow legislators in the New York State Senate have passed a bill that recognizes their contributions, by making them eligible for an existing reduced fare program through the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The bill (S5545A), sponsored by Senator Murphy, would extend MTA's half-fare benefit to veterans and help make it more affordable to live in the greater metropolitan area.

"Enacting this measure on behalf of our veterans is the right thing to do," Senator Murphy said. "Our veterans are still a viable, valuable part of our community. We can never fully repay the debt we owe our veterans, but we can implement programs like the MTA's reduced fare that can help make their everyday lives easier."

"Our veterans have dedicated their lives to protecting us and ensuring our freedom and for that, they not only deserve our respect, but our gratitude, "said fellow Hudson Valley Senator, Sue Serino. "While words will never be enough to express the full weight of our thanks, empowering our veterans to live full lives after their service is just one way that we can show them how much they are valued. Increasing access to transportation services by creating a half-fare program has the potential to significantly improve quality of life for veterans living, working and receiving health care in the MTA region."

New York has one of highest veteran populations in the country, with a strong concentration of residents in the MTA region. However, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the state has lost approximately 30 to 35 percent of the veteran population between 2000-2015. This is often attributed to the state's high cost of living, particularly in the MTA region. The bill would make it more affordable for veterans to live and work in the region by making them eligible for the MTA's reduced fare rate program, which cuts existing fares in half for those participating.

The Senate has also passed legislation (S3137B) sponsored by Senator Tom Croci (R, Sayville) to help veterans navigate the health care system and better reach the various state and federal agencies available to assist them. The measure requires the State Division of Veteran Affairs to maintain a fact sheet on their website containing contact information for all Veterans Integrated Service Networks located within the state and for the U.S. Veterans Health Administration. This up-to-date and coordinated information would also be made available to veterans by hospitals.

The bills will be sent to the Assembly.