To better capture profits from fare revenue, the MTA knows it needs to cut down on the costs of collecting fares. A savings of just a few pennies per swipe can result in tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in added MTA revenue for the year, and right now, the gold standard would be a contact-less fare system based off of a credit or debit card. The MTA wouldn’t have to build, support and maintain a costly proprietary fare-collection system, and the savings would be tremendous.
But the authority is still a few years away from implementing such a system, and instead, they’re going to try to encourage MetroCard recycling by instituted a $1 surcharge sometime next year on new in-system MetroCard purchases. By doing so, the authority thinks it can reap approximately $20 million annually from the $1 surcharge and the lessening demand for new MetroCards. Riders will be encouraged to refill their cards — and the unlimited cards will become refillable too. The authority will not charge riders to replace damaged cards, and straphangers can avoid the surcharge entirely by purchasing fare cards out of the system.
Through this surcharge, the MTA will print fewer cards per year and clean up fewer cards per year. From environmental and cost perspectives, it’s a no-brainer charge for the authority. “Overall, the MTA prints 170 million MetroCards each year at an annual cost of nearly $13 million,” Aaron Donovan, MTA spokesman, said to The Post. “Many cards wind up as litter in the system, which has its own cleanup costs that we haven’t quantified.”