Every 30 days, I, like nearly 33 percent of subway riders, purchase a brand new MetroCard. My unlimited ride card is good for a month, but unless I have an EasyPayXpress card, at the end of 30 days, I have to discard my well-loved MetroCard and purchase a new one. Starting February 1, though, no longer will we have to go through the practice of wasting plastic as the MTA will be introducing the ability to refill unlimited ride cards.
While at Grand Army Plaza this morning for my silver chariot to whisk me away toward Manhattan, my eyes happened upon a new poster. “New!” the sign said, “7-day and 30-day Unlimited Ride MetroCards can now be refilled.” As with pay-per-ride cards, a straphanger can use his or her unlimited ride card over and over again until the magnetic strip wears out or until the expiration date on the back. So how does it work?
Beginning next Wednesday, the unlimited ride cards come with a twist: You can essentially store an extra month on them. Any time after you begin to use an unlimited ride card, you have the option to purchase a refill, but that refill must be for the same time period. In other words, you can refill a 7-day card only with another 7-day period, and you can refill a 30-day card with only another 30-day card. You also do not need to wait until your current time period is over to refill the card as each card will store one refill at a time.
For those folks wary of keeping two months on one card — no one wants to misplace $208 in transit rides — you can also refill it after the expiration of your 7- or 30-day period as long as the card hasn’t reached its ultimate expiration date. According to Transit, the new refill option is “part of our continuing effort to provide customers with new options and added conveniences for paying fares.”
In a sense, this move has been a long-awaited one. Since the MTA announced plans to institute a $1 surcharge for all new MetroCard purchases, the authority had to adapt its system to allow for refillable unlimited ride cards. Despite the February 1 launch date, though, the MTA’s plan to institute such a surcharge will not be implemented until 2013. Still, for riders wary of going through 12 or more cards a year, this new option is both convenient and environmentally friendly. As I figure it, the MTA should save some money on fare collection costs as well as the refill option should reduce the number of cards they need to stock.
For more information, Transit says brochures are available at subway stations near you. After the jump, a glimpse at the poster I saw this morning.