As of Sunday, March 22nd 2015, we New York City subway riders are feeling the pain of yet another MTA fare hike.
- Subway and local bus fares increased from $2.50 to $2.75 per trip. (with a bonus of 11 percent when you buy or add $5.50 or more to your MetroCard).
- Seven-day unlimited MetroCards increased from $30 to $31.
- 30-day unlimited MetroCards increased from $112 to $116.50.
I don’t take the subway enough to justify the purchase of a monthly unlimited MetroCard. Which means that every time I‘m considering a trip, whether it’s to run a quick errand or grab drinks with a friend, I have to ask myself if it’s worth the now $5.50 round trip charge.
When I’m having an unusually busy week, I find myself wrestling with estimations of projected trips and relative costs, fiercely trying to calculate the best value before the next train comes rolling into the station.
Despite the MTA sucking us all dry, they’ve released some “best value” charts and calculators to save us the hassle of doing our own last minute math as the train approaches – allowing us to uncover a MetroCard hack or two.
New York City Subway Value Chart
*MTA strikes again with a typo – first chart, first column, second row should be X rides per WEEK.
This is just a little preview of what the New York City Subway MetroCard Calculator looks like, but you can mess around with the MTA’s new tool HERE.
MetroCard Hack: How to Get to a Zero Balance on Your New York City Subway Card
* Remember you can avoid that $1 new card fee if you keep refilling your card. If your card has expired, trade it in for a new one with the station agent.
If you’re using a pay-per-ride, you have two years from the expiration date on the card to transfer any remaining balance to a new card. The station agent can also assist with the transfer.
Lost Your MetroCard?
If you’ve lived here long enough, (and if you’re anything like me), you’ve probably shed some tears over a lost or missing MetroCard. The feeling of not being able to find your 30-day unlimited just a few days after dropping well over a $100 bucks on it induces spontaneous “leaking from the eyes” faster than an onion.
I don’t know how I lived here for so long without knowing the MTA had a “Balance Protection Program”, but they do. If you buy a 30-day unlimited MetroCard with a credit or debit card, you can call 511 or 718-330-1234 and follow the prompts to get to the Balance Protection Program for a partial refund.
Once you verify the debit or credit card number used to purchase the missing MetroCard, you will receive a refund in the form of a credit back to your debit or credit account for $3.89 per day remaining on your 30-day unlimited. Amounts are based on the day you call in to notify the MTA of your loss.
You can file up to two claims per calendar year. The first refund comes free of charge, the second comes with a $5.00 administrative fee deducted from the total refund amount. Not ideal, but better than a total loss accompanied by a full-scale meltdown when you find out your card is missing in the thick of rush hour.
Screw the MTA
Despite all these fare hikes, New York City subway service is progressively worsening.
According to the MTA New York City Transit Monthly Operations Report…
- Terminal delays on weekends jumped 34 percent.
- Weekday trains finished their routes late 26 percent of the time. (Compared to 19 percent in the previous twelve months).
- Wait times for trains increased on both weekdays and weekends.
Anyone who’s been stuck on the train between two stations with no cell service for an inexplicably epic period of time has undoubtedly shouted expletives at the MTA (even if only in their minds).
Take advantage of these hacks to cut your New York City subway costs and maximize your MetroCard for all it’s worth!
ps. If you really want to stick it to the MTA use Citibike for local trips (or entirely if you live and work within the scope of the program).
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