Introducing the MetroCard Challenge


With all of talk swirling about $2 base fares and Unlimited Ride MetroCard cost increases, I thought it would be fun to see just how much per ride I pay for my 30-day Unlimited Ride MetroCard each month. I take at least two rides a day during the work week as I commute to and from my job. I lead a fairly active social life as well. Since I started a new card on Wednesday, this month is a great time for my experiment. I’ll update my data – which you’ll find in the center column at top – each day and chart my progress. My guess is that I get a pretty sweet deal.

Categories : Asides, MetroCard

13 Responses to “Introducing the MetroCard Challenge”

  1. Todd says:

    That’s a great idea!

  2. Last Monday I was off from work which resulted in my doing more of the school commute rides with my kids on and off Roosevelt Island. Between those trips and a dinner in Manhattan that night I made 8 fare trips in that single day. For me the unlimited monthly card is always the right decision.

  3. john2 says:


    For people trying to maximize their pay as you go metrocards you can use this handy calculator at

  4. Steve says:

    Do you want the price to drop even further? Ask (no, demand) that your employer offer transit benefits such as TransitChek. Through these programs, the price of your monthly transit (it can be a MetroCard, commuter rail or even – shudder – car parking) is deducted from your pay PRE-TAX. In my case, I only pay $43.64 for my 30-day MetroCard (the difference in take-home pay between the check from which it’s deducted and the check without the deduction). Were I to only commute with the card, assuming 20 working days a month my per-trip cost is ONLY $1.16!! And of course I use it much more than that – on a conservative estimate of 2 additional roundtrips a week my per trip cost goes down to 86 cents per ride. Can’t beat it.

  5. Ron says:

    I’m contract, but I wish I could do TransitChek. Under $45 a month for my unlimited would be tremendous. But if you simply want to calculate what the per-trip cost is or per-swipe cost, simply take your monthly unlimited once it’s expired and bug the booth attendant to tell you how many ‘passes’ registered on it. As far as I’m concerned, that’s one more thing those MTA employees are paid to do. Of course you’ll never request this without the booth attendant telling you ubiquitously what you’re already aware of: ‘This card has expired’. ‘Yes, I know that’, I follow with, ‘but I’d like to know how many passes it had for that month’.
    Typically for me, a 9-to-5 commuter who rides on weekends too, I get some 80ish clicks a month, or roughly a buck a ride. My record high was 116 I think. But that was within my first six months in the city, and no doubt many of those occurred simply due to screwing up and taking the wrong train.

    • Downtown Steve/RicanOneLove says:

      I never knew that Booth Clerks could tell you how many “passes” are on a monthly MetroCard. This isn’t something that the MTA broadcasts to the public.

      Thanks for this fine detail!

  6. Doug says:

    TransitChek is a great idea, when they deliver your card. I don’t know who to blame. I signed up for it through work and they were supposed to deliver my card. Three months went by, and I never got a card.

    My suspicion is that they are either really bad at customer service, or someone was stealing the card out of my mailbox. Probably the latter.

  7. j. mork says:

    The transportation tax benefit is managed by an ever-increasing number of third party companies of varying quality. The best one I had (forget which company) is when they give you a special credit card that takes money from an account that is automatically filled with money from your payroll deduction. Then you just use the credit card to get a metrocard from the machines.

    Ask your employer about it.


  1. […] I announced my MetroCard Challenge in which I figure out for this month how much per ride I pay on my 30-day Unlimited card. Already, […]

  2. […] just under half of the time left on my 30-day Unlimited MetroCard Challenge, I’ve taken 38 trips, and I’ve hit the MTA’s $2 base fare. At this rate, my $76, […]

  3. […] it’s that Unlimited Ride increase that worries me. Sure, as the Monthly MetroCcard Challenge shows, we’re all getting some pretty good deals with those cards, and I do like the addition […]

  4. […] the end of November, I started the 30-Day Unlimited MetroCard Challenge. My goal at the time was simple: I was going to track the number of times I swiped my 30-Day […]

  5. […] Last November, as the MTA started talking about a fare hike, I decided to see just how much I, a moderately heavy user of the subways, pay per ride. Thus was born the MetroCard Challenge. […]

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