Home Fare Hikes Fare Hike ’13: Sunset dates, $1 surcharge details unveiled

Fare Hike ’13: Sunset dates, $1 surcharge details unveiled

by Benjamin Kabak

New MetroCards will soon come with a $1 surcharge.

With the March 3 fare hike rapidly approaching, the MTA today unveiled the mechanics of the fare hike. Can you stock up on unlimited ride cards as my parents used to do with tokens? And just how is that $1 surcharge the MTA has been threatening with since 2010 going to work? All of that – and more! – below.

To recap, the not-so-fun stuff first: With this fare hike, the base fare will jump to $2.50 with a pay-per-ride discount of just 5 percent on all purchases at or above $5. The 7-day unlimited will cost $30, and the 30-day unlimited will set back regular riders by $112. An express bus ride checks in at $6, and the single-ride cards available only through vending machines will clock in at $2.75.

With the fare hike, the $1 “new card” surcharge will be instituted as well. Each card purchased at a MetroCard Vending Machine, a station booth or at commuter rail stations will cost $1. The MTA says that to avoid the fee, riders should keep and refill current cards. Damaged or expired cards may be replaced at no cost, and those of us who receive pre-tax MetroCard in the mail through a transit benefit organization will not be assessed the $1 surcharge. Those who buy combo railroad/MetroCard tickets also will not be charged that dollar. As with any MTA project, it took the authority only three years since initial reports to implement this fee.

Now what of the question of hoarding? The short of it is that straphangers pretty much cannot hoard cards. According to the MTA, all cards purchased before Monday, March 3 must be activated by March 11 for users to receive the full value. So seven-day cards are valid through March 17, 2013, and 30-day cards are valid through April 9, 2013. What happens if you activate your card after the March 11 date? Glad you asked. So says the MTA:

For unused Unlimited Ride MetroCards purchased prior to the March 3, 2013 fare change, refunds will be made at the purchase price. For partially used Unlimited Ride MetroCards purchased prior to the March 3 fare increase, refunds will be made on a pro-rated basis. Ask for a postage-paid envelope from your bus operator, at the station booth, or download the form at mta.info and mail it to us with your card.

That refund process can be a bit of a pain. So I’d say start using that card by or before March 11 or find someone willing to pay you for that unused card you have lying around your house.

And that’s that. The breakeven point for a 7-day card will be 13 rides and for a 30-day card 48 rides. In that inexorable march of time, the fares will go up. They always do. After all, someone has to pay for this whole thing.

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Marsha January 25, 2013 - 2:33 pm

Ah, I loved hoarding tokens.

SEAN January 25, 2013 - 3:05 pm

What’s the latest with the smartcard implimentation? Chicago is on it’s way with there next generation system “Ventra.” Ventra will be activated in part this year & fully active in 2014. Presto is fully active outside the TTC & will bee TTC installed in 2015.

Miles Bader January 25, 2013 - 6:00 pm

So is “Ventra” using widespread standard tech, or endless-gravy-train-for-a-single-supplier tech?

SEAN January 25, 2013 - 6:13 pm

Endless gravytrain I think. The cards are bank issued & can be used outside the transit system where RFID readers are located like 7 Eleven. There is one exception, reduced fare cards won’t have the retail functionality enabled. Why, I don’t know.

Jerrold January 25, 2013 - 6:09 pm


SEAN January 25, 2013 - 6:15 pm

Toronto Transit Commission.

Someone January 25, 2013 - 7:04 pm

But wouldn’t you have to activate a prepaid account to use Ventra?

SEAN January 25, 2013 - 7:39 pm

It’s a cousin to Chicago Card Plus with better functionality.

Someone January 25, 2013 - 8:24 pm

That would be awesome, compared to what the CTA has now. The Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus has a lot of disadvantages that I really do not like. Here’s a list of some of them.

-Unlike many other transit “monthly passes” the Chicago Card Plus only offers a “30 day pass”, meaning the pass is active for 30 days regardless of when the account is activated. This card must be loaded twice in most months because of this feature.

-In order to postpone a 30 day pass (even for one day) the entire card must be deactivated and may not be reactivated. (A new card must be activated.)

-The yellow-only Chicago Card is only able to be loaded at specified CTA/retail locations.

-I am unable to transfer funds between Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus.

-Because the cards are registered to discrete individuals, the CTA can track user movement through the system.

-All cards expire four years from date of manufacture and have to be replaced when they expire. Though the replacement is free there is no expiry date printed on the card and recovering my balance may be difficult.

-The card may have to be taken out of my wallet if there is another smartcard close by.

So, is Ventra coming out in summer 2013?

SEAN January 25, 2013 - 9:14 pm

Yes, I was reading about it yesterday. Most, but not all of those shortcomings are being worked out. In adition Ventra will be active on Metra trains as CCP is not currently valid fare. Think of Clipper in San Francisco.

Someone January 26, 2013 - 9:47 am

What’s CCP?

SEAN January 26, 2013 - 11:46 am

Sorry, Chicago Card Plus.

Someone January 26, 2013 - 12:42 pm

It’s okay.

The good thing about Ventra is that it would finally be easier to pay a fare within the CTA.

SEAN January 27, 2013 - 4:26 pm

Not only that, it will be active on Metra as well.

jtown January 27, 2013 - 4:50 pm

Does Metra operate all the commuter lines serving Chicago? Are there any widely used lines/systems in Chicago that won’t accept Ventra?

Someone January 27, 2013 - 5:44 pm

Metra is Chicago’s main commuter rail system, though I think that Amtrak operates some commuter routes as well.

As for Ventra, you could sign up here. It is compatible with CTA and Pace buses, but Metra is, for the most part, not included.

SEAN January 27, 2013 - 8:01 pm

The Metra lines that aren’t holy owned run on shared row with freight trains. These routes are contracted & are staffed by Metra employees. I forgot wich ones they are, but there’s three of them.

Nelson January 25, 2013 - 3:21 pm

I purchase a 30 Day Unlimited. You do not have the option to refill Unlimited cards. So those of us who purchase these will be assessed the $1 fee each time, making the cost $113??

That makes no sense.

Benjamin Kabak January 25, 2013 - 3:27 pm

Unlimited cards have been refillable since last February.

boerumhillscott January 25, 2013 - 3:28 pm

I have been refilling my 30 day unlimited for the last year.

Nelson January 25, 2013 - 3:54 pm

Wow. Don’t I feel like the !@#$ assh0le… doh!!

Guess I haven’t tried for over a year. haha

Someone January 25, 2013 - 4:20 pm

Good thing I have a pay-per-ride card.

This is off -topic, but when is the MTA implementing contactless (RFID) PASMO stored value cards?

Jerrold January 25, 2013 - 5:38 pm

I sure remember the old days of hoarding tokens.
They once pulled off a trick:
They announced that there was going to be a new token.
They even released PICTURES of the “new token” to the newspapers.
Then they supposedly decided at the last minute to keep the old token instead. It leaked out soon enoough that it had been a trick to discourage the public from hoarding; those new tokens had never existed.

The NEXT time that they raised the fare, nobody believed the story about the new token, but this time there really WAS a new token. People then had large quantities of the old ones to cash in.

I seem to remember than the former happened when the fare went from 35 cents to 50 cents, and the latter happened when the fare went from 50 cents to 60 cents.

Paul January 25, 2013 - 7:55 pm

So the MTA finds another way to steal from occasional riders and tourists. If all someone needs is a round trip then he has to spend $6 for a $5 card that will leave him with a useless quarter at the end which the MTA gets to steal as well. Value of the rides = $4.75, MTA Theft = $1.25 ($1 surcharge plus the .25 useless balance)

The theft can be mitigated by buying two single rides instead. Those will only cost $5.50 for a round trip so the MTA steals only fifty cents above the posted fare

Someone January 25, 2013 - 8:18 pm

This can also be mitigated by increasing the fare to $2.50, after which fare discrepancies for round trips will amount to zero.

Nathanael January 30, 2013 - 9:20 pm

The NYC Subway is the least tourist-friendly system in the country right now. It needs a day pass.

Chicago’s second-worst; at least it HAS a day pass, it’s just absurdly not sold in stations.

Epson45 January 25, 2013 - 8:15 pm

Is Port Authority (PATH & AirTrain JFK) vending machines implemented $1 surcharge fee for new MetroCards as well?

ezmtamoney January 25, 2013 - 9:21 pm

Metrocard & Metro North /LIRR Ticket machines should disense lottery tickets.
ez money

Someone January 26, 2013 - 9:51 am

That’s illegal, you know.

ezmtamoney January 26, 2013 - 8:26 pm

change the law. the company that makes this is from NY.

Someone January 26, 2013 - 9:45 am

RFID Card, Seoul, South Korea


This is a system that the MTA should use, rather than the MetroCard.

Someone January 26, 2013 - 9:49 am Reply
SEAN January 26, 2013 - 11:55 am

That is how Ventra, Presto & Clipper cards work amung others.

Adrian January 26, 2013 - 3:47 pm

What possible advantage could there be to hoarding cards? They say they will replace damaged or expired cards. Is it common to lose the card (without losing your whole wallet or other stuff that would make the extra $1 seem completely trivial)? I visit NYC once or twice a year, and don’t see this change affecting me.

Someone January 26, 2013 - 6:50 pm

Is it common to lose the card (without losing your whole wallet or other stuff that would make the extra $1 seem completely trivial)?


However, you can file a claim of protection to ensure that your MetroCard is not stolen. According to the website, “MTA New York City Transit provides a Balance Protection Program for its 30-Day Unlimited Ride and 7-Day Express Bus Plus MetroCard that protects you from loss or theft of the card as long as you purchase it with a credit, debit, or ATM card from a MetroCard vending machine”.

RobNYC January 26, 2013 - 6:11 pm

Very recently went through the refund process for expired, un-used 30 day unlimited….IT TOOK THREE x@#$% MONTHS and that was after calling them twice. When proactively, I asked them what will happen with the fare hike, they said they did not know (this was about a month ago). It’s gonna be ugly.

Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines January 28, 2013 - 9:00 am

[…] Full Details About March Fare Hike, Including $1 New MetroCard Fee (2nd Ave Sagas,¬†Gothamist,¬†Post) […]

NYC February 5, 2013 - 8:20 pm

Just wondering, if I have Pay-Per-Ride Metrocard, I used up all the money, can I refill this card with 30 Day Unlimited?

Or refill/add money to 30 Day Unlimited (after it expires)



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