MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said Wednesday the authority will consider eliminating the 7% discount riders receive for buying pay-per-ride MetroCards when fares go up next March.
As a pretty regular bike commuter, I only buy the pay-per-ride. If they still offered a one-day (or three-day) unlimited card, I would get those for days when I need to run a good number of errands.
When I first moved to New York in 2001, the bonus on the pay-per-ride was equivalent to 20%. You bought five rides at $1.50 each, you were credited with a free ride. That was a pretty good discount. I would often spend $15 to get the two rides. Ahh, the good ole days.
Currently, the stated discount is currently 7%, but it’s actually much worse than the old days. First, you have to spend at least $10 to get the discount, much more than the halcyon days of the early Bloomberg era. Second, in order to get a free ride, you have to spend $35.75. That amount, without the discount will buy you 15.89 rides. With the 7% bonus, you get a $2.50 added to your card, bringing up your Metrocard to $38.25 or 17 full-fare rides. I wonder how many New Yorkers know about the $35.75 magic number.
I imagine that many people abandon cards with small, random amounts on them because it’s too hard to figure out how much you need to add to your card to get a full number of rides. Thankfully, there’s a bonus calculator on the web and an app for the iPhone, but I doubt these get widespread usage.