Home MetroCard A random thought on Unlimited MetroCards

A random thought on Unlimited MetroCards

by Benjamin Kabak

Are you following me on Twitter? If not, you can do so right here. The limits of the MTA’s fare payment technology may be obvious, but don’t let that stop you from exploring various ways to consume Second Ave. Sagas. (And for those wondering, the card expired on Sunday night.)

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Michael March 28, 2012 - 5:50 pm

I’ve never understood why the bus MetroCard readers can tell you the expiration date but the subway turnstiles couldn’t.

Hopefully the MTA will update the metrocard soon with a modern contactless card system like most other modern transit systems.

Why hasn’t a national transit card system been developed that would hold cash, transfers and a wide range of transit tickets/passes. This could save all the separate transit agencies from developing separate incompatible systems. Ideally these could also be used for parking meters, and also allow credit card payments.

Until then, you might want to try the EasyPay metrocard that refills automatically. The Unlimited ride version can be switched to a pay per ride version for times you may be away or not using transit much.
This way you are no longer stuck with an expired MetroCard.

Andrew March 28, 2012 - 11:01 pm Reply
Alon Levy March 29, 2012 - 1:11 am

I want to say “not invented here,” but in reality a national system is not invented anywhere. I’m not sure why, but it’s never come out of a national standard; in the most advanced places for anonymous electronic money, it started out as a fare payment card licensed by the private-sector provider (the MTR in Hong Kong, any of a zillion railroads and transit agencies in Japan) as electronic money for much lower fees than for credit cards.

The US is actually in a unique position to offer a national electronic money card, because it has so many existing applications for it, some offered by governments and a few by the federal government: EBT, tolls, Eagle Cash, laundromats, transit, vending machines. It requires a one-time expenditure to set up the system, but beyond that it lets small local governments piggyback at no cost, without relying on expensive, non-universal credit cards.

Duke March 28, 2012 - 7:36 pm

I don’t have an issue remembering when my card expires since I’ve got a spreadsheet I update at the end of every day keeping track of my usage (48 rides in 22 days so far currently). That always nicely reminds me.
But I understand this level of geeky obsessive-compulsive record keeping is not normal. 😛

Eric March 29, 2012 - 9:34 am

Hah, I do that too.

Currently 23 rides in 10 days.

Christopher March 29, 2012 - 1:14 pm

I don’t even make a monthly budget. I’ve got a long way to go before I’m mapping out my Metrocard usage in spreadsheets.

Ed March 28, 2012 - 8:56 pm

Actually this reminds my that my unlimited card has expired or will expire tomorrow.

I will have to do my periodic try of whether getting a fixed number of rides cards is cheaper. I’m not enough of a geek to keep a spreadsheet, so I usually just pay for a regular metrocard and see how far into the month it runs out. If it runs out in, say, the second week I know I have made a mistake.

I am between jobs so in theory I have no business getting an unlimited ride but am strangely busy anyway. It seems you have to leave your neighborhood just eighteen days out of the month for the unlimited ride to be a better deal (assuming you also use mass transit to come back), but my calculations could be off.

Todd March 28, 2012 - 9:56 pm

I think the exact same thing around this time every month. This thought is always preceded by the pain in my testicles from the immobile turnstile.

Phillip Roncoroni March 29, 2012 - 7:49 am

Just get an EasyPay Unlimited Metrocard.

Ron Siliato March 30, 2012 - 5:46 pm

The EasyPay Xpress Unlimited really is the best solution, and they even send you an email before it expires

From their website

Open your account with $104, the same as if you bought it at a booth, vending machine or merchant
Like any other 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, the card is activated when you first use it
Near the end of 30 consecutive days from first use, your credit or debit card will be charged $104, and your first use after that will start a new 30-Day time period. Before this happens though, you will be sent an e-mail to notify you and give you the option to change to Pay-Per-Ride.
We automatically replace your expiring MetroCard one week prior to the expiration of your old MetroCard



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