Oct
24

MetroCard surcharge not on tap until 2013

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When the MTA unveiled its fare hike plan last year, a controversial centerpiece involved a MetroCard surcharge. In order to cut down on trash and the costs of printing new cards, the MTA proposed a $1 fee for every new MetroCard. This measure will make unlimited cards refillable and will help generate $20 million for the MTA in both cost savings and added revenue. It’s still a few years away though.

According to Transit documents released this week, the authority is not planning on introducing the surcharge until 2013 at the earliest. Agency officials tell me that the TA is experiencing “issues with the software that’s needed to implement the surcharge,” and troubleshooting is taking longer than expected. This is, of course, the problem with modifying 20-year-old proprietary software for a use that wasn’t contemplated at the time the system was built, and for now, discarded MetroCards will continue to build up.

Eventually, the surcharge will become but a footnote in the history of the MTA’s fare payment systems. If Joe Lhota sticks with Jay Walder’s plan, the MetroCard could become a thing of the past by 2015, and the surcharge will wind up as a prime example of the need to maintain current technology.



Categories : Asides, MetroCard

8 Responses to “MetroCard surcharge not on tap until 2013”

  1. BBnet3000 says:

    Kinda sucks because flimsy swipecards have a finite lifespan.

    Whats the current ETA on RFID cards?

    • Probably still mid-decade-ish, but with Walder out, it will depend upon if Lhota is willing to move forward on it. He should be though; that’s a prime example of a project that should save money in the long term.

      • SEAN says:

        I agree since SEPTA is in process of it’s own RFID farecard & the TTC is expanding there’s. So it’s on the MTA’s sholders to keep up with the times.

      • Andrew says:

        In the short term, too, since if it isn’t implemented, a lot of MetroCard equipment will need to be replaced very soon.

        This wasn’t a project that Walder initiated. It was a preexisting project that Walder (rightly) trumpeted, since he had more PR sense than his predecessors. Kind of like countdown clocks.

        If, come 2013, smartcards are still on schedule for 2015, I don’t see this charge happening. It would be a pretty substantial change, with great negative PR potential, that would only last two years.

  2. Eric F. says:

    That sounds like a scam-my sort of charge. The cards themselves avoid the MTA from having to tote around and guard vaults of metal tokens, as well as print and hand out paper transfer slips for bus transfers.

    Anyway, the PATH systems offers an RFID tap card and charges $5 for it.

    • John says:

      I think most systems with an RFID card charge $5 for it. DC (WMATA) offers you a $0.25 per ride discount for using it, so you make the money back after 20 rides. LA just makes you pay for it and you get nothing out of it, and it was tough for me to figure out where to buy it.

    • Alon Levy says:

      Boston offers you a tap card without a charge. Also with a technology that’s not vendor-locked to Cubic.

      But I think it’s more common to have a charge for the card than not to have one.

    • Richard says:

      MTA should do the same as PATH.

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