Once upon a time, when the subway fares were $2 per swipe and the MetroCard pay-per-ride bonus a convenient 20 percent, calculating the number of rides to buy was a piece of cake. Twenty rides would get you 24, and it all cost just $40. Today, though, good luck with that math. Rides now cost $2.25 with a 15 percent bonus on purchases of $8 or more, and for the uneven amount of $15.65, straphangers get eight rides — or $18 — on their cards. It’s only going to get more confusing in ten days.
When the MTA raises the fares on December 30, the math remains obtuse. The base fare will be $2.25 with a seven percent bonus on purchases above $10, and as amNew York details this morning, it’s tough for riders on the fly to figure out that a purchase of $35.75 will lead to a total of $38.25 or 17 rides or that $39.95 will get you $42.75, the equivalent of 19 rides. “It’s was hard before to come up with an even number when using the bonus, and it’s harder now,” Gene Russianoff said to the free daily.
The solutions are simple. First, folks planning ahead can always use the MetroCard Bonus Calculator already updated with the new fare info. But for those who arrive at a MetroCard Vending Machine without a number in mind, the MTA should provide a cheat sheet. The MVMs offer an option to purchase even dollar amounts, but I’d rather buy an even amount of rides with the appropriate bonus. That would be a step in the right direction for customer service relations.