A mea culpa: Universal MetroCards can be used on PATH, AirTrain


After my conversations with the MTA over the past few days and my initial assessment on the universal MetroCard, I received word today from a Transit spokesperson that in fact the new MetroCard offering is more universal than I had originally understood it to be. I was wrong with the information in my post last night, and I need to offer up a correction. Specifically, the new programming does indeed allow usage of time and value concurrently but only under certain circumstances.

According to Transit spokesperson Kevin Ortiz, the card works as follows: If a customer buys a 30-day pass and adds $15 to that card, the unlimited pass will be activated on first swipe, and for all subway and local bus use, the money cannot be accessed until time runs out. In other words, a straphanger can’t swipe in on time and then hand the pass back to a friend for a swipe that deducts money.

There is, however, flexibility that makes the card far more useful than I originally thought. If a customer uses the card at a location where the 30-day pass is not accepted, the money can be accessed. In other words, if a MetroCard user has a card with time and money and wants to use an express bus, PATH or the AirTrain, the monetary value of the fare will be deducted from the card as long as their is enough value on the card. So my initial understanding of the card, gleaned through conversations with MTA officials, was incorrect, and the universal card will indeed be more useful than just as a storage device.

Categories : Asides, MetroCard

18 Responses to “A mea culpa: Universal MetroCards can be used on PATH, AirTrain”

  1. I would guess that the no-hand-back restriction is a safety feature to prevent someone from incorrectly thinking that their first swipe didn’t work, swiping again, and getting charged a fare on top of the unlimited card usage.

    • Christopher says:

      And time at the gate feature too. Swiping and boarding is a forward motion. Swiping., and then handing back to someone else slows things down. A process that is already slow enough by the swiping in and of itself.

  2. SEAN says:

    I guess this doesn’t apply to Easypay?

  3. Someone says:

    So I guess the previous post was a mistake, then.

    • VLM says:

      Man, you are insufferable. Isn’t that what saying “mea cupla” and “I was wrong” amounts to? I don’t think we needed that spelled out for us.

      And only parts of the other post were wrong. That $1 surcharge ain’t going anywhere.

      • Someone says:

        I know. Just stating the obvious. That’s my speciality.

        • John says:

          Well your specialty is annoying. You’re also a huge grammar bully. Shut up. We all make mistakes.

          • Someone says:

            Note that I said… OK, forget it.

            Anyway, the question I meant to ask was whether the MetroCard can cover a PATH/Airtrain fare as well as a NYCS fare, whose answer is already covered in the post before this.

  4. Dave says:

    I wished this had existed awhile back when I visited as a tourist. Had it not been for a straphanger on an Express Bus to use her card for me, I would’ve been stuck; whereas a cross-application between Local Bus/Express/PATH makes it much easier.

    Thanks for the info!

  5. Mika says:

    Makes me wonder, can you add value to one of those TransitChek unlimited cards? Or is it only on strandard unlimiteds that you can add value?

  6. BDavinci says:

    That’s good on the MTA making the MetroCards universal. However here’s a thought. Why don’t MTA adopt the PATH Smartlink Card as our RFID Card to replace the MetroCard. Have it so where it can separate the fare media passes from PATH, NJT, CT Transit, MTA, SEPTA etc. You can add cash to use one of the systems. There should be no need to determine whether if we can use a debit card for a fare card and the constant red tape to even implement the new system. I think the conversion to the Smartlink card could be done. What do you guys think?

  7. pete says:

    reduced fare metrocards had “add time” and “add value” on MVMs since day 1. Why it took 15 years for this to be available on Metrocard Gold, only govt ineptitude can explain it.

  8. Ant6n says:

    Now it would be cool if they offered a rebate on the money charged for people who have a pass. For example, if there’s an unlimited pass, why not charge 1$ for using PATH. Or why not have a couple of swiping machines at LIRR and Metro North stations that charge a cheaper fare if there’s a pass on the card as well.

  9. D.R. Graham says:

    At the end of the day it’s still a little unfair. When you think about it if I have both time and monetary value on my card and I use the express bus. The time should be taken into consideration as one full fare and the only value that should be deducted is the difference. But then again that would be doing a favor to the customer that saves the customer money.

  10. SubwayNut says:

    For express buses with an Unlimited Pass you really should only have to pay $2.25 instead of $5.50, especially since those riders get free transfers to local buses and subways on their express bus fare. In most cities this is how higher fare buses work (commuter rail is a whole different matter).

    The best US example is in Seattle Metro Area. There passengers use the ORCA Card that can hold both store value (I have one left over after my last trip to Seattle, spent the $5 for it when I realized it was the only way to transfer for free) or a monthly Pudget Pass. The Pudget Pass is accepted by 6 different transit agencies and comes valid for fares in denominations between 50¢ and $5.25. You buy the fare that you pay the most and if you ever take a bus or train for a ride that costs more than your pass, the difference in fare between what you pass covers and you actual ride is automatically deducted from your ePurse. You can even use your ePurse to buy regular tickets for friends (or yourself in my case, a paper ticket was the only way to buy a day pass the day I was riding Central Link) at TVMs for the Central Link Light Rail and Suburbian Commuter Rail.

    At least we don’t have the ridiculous an non-user friendly system Montreal has with the OPUS card. This card doesn’t let you load store value, only tickets that are only valid on the transit agency you specifically buy them for. Many bus agencies also require an OPUS card for free transfers. The last time I was in Montreal I needed to take a round trip bus ride on Reseau de transport de Longueuil with a transfer and found myself buying an OPUS card and six trips (the minimum), I still have four left because the price was negligible more than having to pay for four single rides and fumbling with change.

  11. Lita says:

    I could have used this information the other day 2/9/14. I have a 30-day unlimited metro card and I wanted to take an express bus from Staten Island to Manhattan. Luckily for me, when I go hiking, I always carry a small purse full of $1 coins. That’s what I used to pay my express bus fare. Next time when I plan to hike in Staten Island, I will add value to my unlimited card.

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