Earlier today, the MTA Board held its first meeting of 2010, and prior to that meeting, the agency released its board materials. As I’ve done in the past, today, I’d like to take a look at some of the myriad transit statistics offered up in these presentations. Let’s delve today into the Transit Committee book (PDF). In particular, I’d like to explore how the subway riding public purchases its MetroCards.
First, as the above table shows, we can explore how those who ride the subway pay for their trips. This chart shows the number of non-student passenger trips, and it appears as though the Unlimited Ride/Pay-Per-Ride gap is evenly split. According to Transit, 50.7 percent of riders used an Unlimited Ride card with the bulk of those employing the 30-day unlimited ride card. Those are the frequent commuters. Of the remainders, 45.3 percent resorted to the pay-per-ride card with the majority of those taking advantage of the MTA’s bonus discount program. Four percent — bus riders — paid via cash.
What we see here, then, are smart commuters. Over 86 percent of all subway riders are taking advantage of the MTA’s discount fare offerings and are what I would consider to be daily or near-daily riders. The remaining 14 percent are most likely tourists and visitors to the city who do not understand the pay-per-ride discount or find themselves rarely using trains. Of course, some tourists will buy unlimited ride cards as well. Interestingly, the 14-day MetroCard isn’t seeing much traction, but I wonder if those numbers increase in December when vacation times increase.
Beyond the pure fare card numbers here, Transit presented various other facts about MetroCard use. For example, those who purchase their 30- and 14-day passes from a MetroCard Vending Machine with a credit card can take advantage of the MTA’s automatic loss insurance. Transit reports 5387 lost MetroCard claims in November 2009 for an average refund amount of $51.09. Apparently, straphangers lose and report their MetroCards well before the midway point of the month.
The agency then runs through a variety of numbers. Employer-based providers of pre-tax transportation benefits purchased 209,110 MetroCards valued at $13.9 million in November, and the mobile sales unit generated just over $97,000 in sales. Meanwhile, the EasyPay Xpress Unlimited program — an auto-bill program that charges a user’s credit the $89 for a 30-day card once a month — isn’t generating much use. While 2794 customers are enrolled in this program, they rode just 120,831 times in November. That 50-trip average drops the price-per-ride of the 30-day card to $1.78, not much lower than the pay-per-ride discount.
Finally, we have monthly totals as well. The MTA’s own MetroCard Vending Machines saw 13.3 million customer transactions in November for a total revenue intake of $171.1 million. Of note is this fact: “Debit/credit card purchases account for 66 percent of total vending machine revenue while cash purchases account for 34 percent. Debit/credit card transactions account for 36 percent of total vending machine transactions while cash transactions account for 64 percent.” The average cash sale, says Transit, is $6.87 while the average credit and debit card purchases are $26.10 and $19.71, respectively.
And that is how we rode in November and how we paid for our rides.