Home Asides New MetroCard math on the fly

New MetroCard math on the fly

by Benjamin Kabak

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.

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8 comments

Marc Shepherd December 20, 2010 - 12:00 pm

I’ve given up with maintaining an amount on my card equal to an even number of rides. I use AirTrain JFK fairly often, which tends to leave me with odd amounts left over on my card. I just keep refilling the card when it gets down to a few dollars, without worrying about the fractional amount remaining. As long as I don’t lose the card, it’ll all get spent eventually.

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JP December 20, 2010 - 1:12 pm

I’m with Marc. It’s not worth getting all worked up over the loose change. I’ll eventually refill it anyway.

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digamma December 20, 2010 - 12:04 pm

When my card starts failing, I wait until the balance goes below $2.25, add the difference to get it to exactly $2.25, then use it one last time.

Londoners don’t exactly have this unlimited ride problem. If you are paying for single rides off an Oyster Card, and you ride enough times that a day pass would have been a better deal, it assumes you really wanted a day pass and stops charging you.

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Marsha December 20, 2010 - 12:42 pm

I like running my card down to $0 and then adding $45 so I know exactly how many rides I am purchsing. To add $35.75 or $39.95 will make the payment process that much longer because I will have to go to Other Amounts and manually enter how much I want to purchase. Ugh.

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Jeff December 20, 2010 - 1:38 pm

I’m sure this gets asked all the time:

As a non-unlimited-card user, would it be in my best interests to load up my MetroCard before December 30 so as to take advantage of the 15% bonus, before it drops to 7%?

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Benjamin Kabak December 20, 2010 - 11:01 pm

Yes, it would. You can put any amount on a pay-per-ride card before the fare hike, and it will deduct accordingly after the fares go up.

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Meera December 20, 2010 - 10:57 pm

I was riding the B35 this evening and they had a sheet up with information on how much to add to your card to make even ride amounts. Don’t know if this is up in train stations though.

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Benjamin Kabak December 20, 2010 - 11:01 pm

I’ve heard they’re either up in the subways or will be soon. I’m not sure for how long the MTA will keep them there.

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