Home Asides Walder: MTA Board will vote for $104 unlimited card

Walder: MTA Board will vote for $104 unlimited card

by Benjamin Kabak

While speaking on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show this morning, Jay Walder reiterated his stance on the MTA’s upcoming fare hike proposal: As he said last week, the MTA Board will not approve a proposal to cap the number of rides available to those who use timed cards and will instead vote on a larger increase for the unlimited ride cards. The authority will do away with the 1- and 14-day passes while the 30-day cards will cost $104 and the 7-day cards will carry a $29 price tag.

The MTA Board will vote on Thursday morning, and the fare hikes will go into effect on January 1. “The discounts that we give on the monthly pass are much steeper than the discounts that we give on the weekly pass,” Walder says. “At the same time, if you look at the income level of the people who buy weekly passes and monthly passes, more lower income people buy weekly passes than monthly passes. So we sought to be able to limit the increases on those fare options that lower income people use the most.”

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13 comments

oscar October 5, 2010 - 3:16 pm

I think there are many people (think suburban commuters) who only use the subway twice a day, weekdays only. In fact I bet many city dwellers fall into this category as well.

This price point virtually removes the financial benefit of getting a monthly.

Is there data on how often a typical monthly pass holder rides a subway in a given month?

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Benjamin Kabak October 5, 2010 - 3:27 pm

If you use the subway only twice a day and just during the weekdays, buying a 30-day unlimited has, in its 12-year history, never been worth it. The break-even point as compared with the discounted pay-per-ride card was always 46 rides.

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oscar October 5, 2010 - 3:30 pm

will the discounted pay-per-ride still exist?

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Benjamin Kabak October 5, 2010 - 3:32 pm

Yes. It is being reduced to 7 percent on purchases of $10 or more vs. the current 15 percent on purchases of $8 or more.

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hal p October 5, 2010 - 3:32 pm

still close though no? assuming the average 30 day period includes 22 work days, swiping 2 additional times puts you even. over a 30 day period, it’s close enough for government work. that’s one additional trip on the weekend or maybe a forgotten workbag a month. i’ll probably still risk it.

we also don’t know how much the pay-per-ride metrocard discount will drop. no way to evaluate this yet.

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Benjamin Kabak October 5, 2010 - 4:11 pm

So here are the new cost-comparisons. Under the new pay-per-ride discount, if you buy 46 rides, you get 49.2 rides for a cost of $2.10 per ride. To get your $104-card down to $2.10 per ride, you have to ride more than 49 times. Right now, the break-even point on the $89 card is more than 45 swipes per month.

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Christopher October 5, 2010 - 5:21 pm

I wish like other systems it was a true month. SF cards are sold for each month (and you have spare days at the beginning and end.) Not that SF has money to spare but it is helpful. Of course in NY you can buy it whenever and the 30 days counts from the time you swipe. Still since I get my through transitcheck, there is usually one or two days I don’t have it at all.

I’m probably not getting my full money’s worth, but to me the value is not having to worry about how much is on the card. In places like DC you get $5 over the balance before you have to refill, again, it’s about not having to worry. That’s the value of the unlimited card. But I don’t do anything like calculate the price per ride at all or worry about that at all — I doubt most people do — perhaps we’re not smart consumers in that way.

Alon Levy October 6, 2010 - 1:07 am

There’s exactly one benefit to using calendar months instead of 30-day periods: if the system uses paper tickets, then it makes it much easier to do spot checks, as on proof-of-payment systems and on conductor-based North American commuter trains.

Alon Levy October 5, 2010 - 9:53 pm

Before the fare hike that took the unlimited monthly from $70 to $76, the breakeven point was 42.

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hal p October 5, 2010 - 3:29 pm

i still think 90 rides is a better option. it’s pretty difficult to get to 90 rides.

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John October 6, 2010 - 9:13 am

Objectively it probably is, but there are psychological/public-relations issues with going from an unlimited to a limited card, even if most people would never hit the limit.

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Carlie Delnegro July 24, 2012 - 3:50 am

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Catbus» Blog Archive » The STM and the illusion of participation February 7, 2013 - 2:35 pm

[…] where the recent fare hike was part of a long and angsty debate (the conclusion of which was to make the unlimited ride card more expensive, rather than cap […]

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