When the MTA introduced the new fare scheme and new 15 percent bonus system in March, the authority also revamped their prepackaged MetroCard program. Chief among the new pre-paid options were two pay-per-ride cards — one for the odd total of $17.39 and the other for the off-kilter sum of $52.17.
When a Racked reader got wind of these new fares, this person tried to find a conspiracy, and Racked bought into it. On Friday, they posted on what they called “The MTA’s ‘Brilliant’ Scam.” Their reader wrote:
Was wondering if you’d noticed the brilliant scam in progress at the MTA. They’ve changed the ‘prepackaged’ Metrocard values, such that you’re always left with a value less than one fare on the card. Whereas you used to be able to buy a $10 card, get $2 free (6 rides, exactly) and just throw out – I mean recycle – the used cards when done, now you have to save them because they’ve got values of .05 or $1.05 or $1.50 on them. They’re banking on people leaving this loose changed unused, right? WTF was broken about offering cards with an exact number of rides on ‘em?
Racked itself was equally puzzled: “Though others have no doubt realized the new card policy is a bum deal for riders, we’re still puzzled as to what you are supposed to do with the left-over change on your Metrocard. Answers, anyone?”
Well, here’s your answer: There is no scam. The MTA just requires MetroCard buyers to have an advanced understanding of multiplication.
Under the new fare scheme, straphangers using pay-per-ride cards begin to accrue a bonus on purchases totaling $7 or more. Unlike the old scheme, when paying for 10 rides bought two free swipes, the new bonus is a good old fashioned 15 percent. With this convoluted math scheme in place, those odd amounts seemingly left over on the prepackaged cards disappear. It’s magic.
As you could guess, 15 percent of $17.39 is $2.61 cents, and 15 percent of $52.17 is $7.83. Therefore, those cards end up offering up $20 (or 10 rides) and $60 (or 30 rides) respectively. There is no scam: The cards still have the exact number of rides on them, and there is your answer to a non-controversy (for once) surrounding the MTA’s fare hike.
For the mathematically confused among us, online MetroCard bonus calculators abound. You have your choice of the NYC MetroCard Bonus Calculator, the New York City MetroCard Refill Calculator and the New York City MetroCard Calculator. A handy image of the amounts on the new pre-packaged MetroCards — only available at select Pay-O-Matics and other retailers in the city — is below.