How high could the MetroCard fares go?By
On July 4, 1998, New Yorkers enjoyed independence from the pay-per-ride subway fare. That day witnessed the introduction of the unlimited ride MetroCard, and for just $63, straphangers could swipe as many times as they wanted over the course of 30 days. On December 30, 2010, that 30-day card is going to cost $104. This spike represents a 12-year increase of 65 percent in nominal dollars, and it has led many to wonder just how much a 30-day pass could cost in the future.
In a piece in Metro on the future of the New York City subways, Carly Baldwin posits that the fares could continue to go up, up and up. At the current rate, fares in 2022, when the 7 line extension and Second Ave. Subway are in service, a 30-day card would cost $171. It seems inconceivable today that the fares would go that high, but it also seemed inconceivable in 1998 that we would be paying over $100 a month for our 30-day cards.
Of course, if the MTA figures out a way to implement a contactless system that significantly reduces the costs of fare collecting, the agency could pass those savings onto consumers. Furthermore, $63 in 1998 has the same buying power as $84.43 today. Fares, therefore, are outpacing inflation by only 23 percent over 12 years. If that rate holds, we should be paying only around $130 for the monthly card in 2022. The prices though will only keep increasing as time goes by.