Home Asides Generating millions through a MetroCard surcharge

Generating millions through a MetroCard surcharge

by Benjamin Kabak

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.”

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Skip Skipson November 26, 2010 - 1:07 pm

Yes, this is a welcome change to reduce Metrocard waste in the system.

I’m looking forward to seeing how much the MTA’s Fare Media Liability, a revenue line for the MTA, will decrease as a result of this move.

tacony palmyra November 26, 2010 - 2:16 pm

I’ve always wondered why regular 30-day unlimited cards aren’t currently refillable. Good that they’re finally doing it, but why’d it take so long? Don’t the cards start to wear out? I’d assumed that was the reason.

Alon Levy November 26, 2010 - 5:37 pm

Just stop it… globally the gold standard is Octopus/Suica, i.e. a contactless smartcard owned and issued by the transit operator and licensed to outside vendors for use as anonymous electronic money. The silver standard is the POP used throughout Central Europe (with paper tickets, no less), allowing barrier-free systems. The credit card-based smartcard is an invention of people from New York and London, the world’s most expensive, worst run major subway networks.

The highest fare collection cost is the ticket punchers on the commuter trains. They need to go, if commuter rail is to ever be useful for more than rush-hour trips to Manhattan.

Chris G November 30, 2010 - 12:07 pm

Alon. This comment about MNRR and LIRR is a lead in to my biggest complaint about the NYC region. Too many different payment methods and tickets required to move around. You need a MNRR ticket. You then need a metrocard. And if you wanted to ride the ferry you need yet another ticket. All of these should be integrated. Octopus would work wonders on this. Also, for MNRR tickets I would prefer to see a system similar to the tappen zee bridge commuter plan for ezpass. A base fare per month that gets eaten away at a reduced rate. For example it used to be 17 dollars a month and 1 dollar per crossing. so you were covered for 17 crossings. This would encourage people to take it who don’t need it every day of the week and still want a discount while also giving the mta a monthly charge.

It always amazes me how hard it is to do things in NY that happen all the time around the world.

MetroCard ‘Green Fee’ details coming into view :: Second Ave. Sagas July 27, 2012 - 3:16 pm

[…] the last twenty months, the MTA has talked on and off about instituting a $1 surcharge on all new MetroCard fees. Instead of refilling a non-expired unlimited or pay-per-ride card, straphangers would have to pay […]


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