Thirty-Day Unlimited Metrocard: One For the Price of Two

With each subway and bus fare increase the MTA board has approved over the years, I wondered how long it would take before the fare would have doubled since I moved to New York in 2001. I no longer have to wonder. The price of a 30-Day Unlimited Metrocard in April 2019 will be double what it was in 2001.

In 2001, the base fare was $1.50 and the 30-Day Unlimited Metrocard cost $63. Below is then-New York governor George Pataki introducing Metrocard in 1997, which allowed riders to buy unlimited passes.

Gov. George Pataki holds the Metrocard, a transit fare card, during a press conference Monday, Dec. 8, 1997, in New York, to announce the unlimited-use for $63 a month or $17 a week. The flat-fee cards would effectively reduce the $1.50 one-way fare for riders who take round trips on buses or subways every day, but not for people who use transit only to get to and from work. (AP Photo/Ed Bailey)

Is it me or does he look somewhat disappointed? As if he’s thinking, yup, that’s the best we can do. But it’s going to make it so much easier to raise fares.

In 2001, one could buy a one-day unlimited pass, called the “Fun Pass,” for $4. I used to buy one on days when I was planning to ride a lot of trains, busses, or a mix of both. I really do miss the Fun Pass.

Last week, the MTA Board voted to raise fares effective on April 21, 2019. While the base fare will remain at $2.75, the price of the thirty-day unlimited Metrocard will rise to $127. That means that the price of the unlimited thirty-day card has doubled since I arrived as a bright-eyed, optimistic graduate student with a full head of coal black hair.

Clearly, a lot has changed since 2001.

Incidentally, the last time I bought a thirty-day unlimited card—colloquially known as a “monthly”—was in April 2002. It was then that I started regularly riding a bike to get around and paying-per-ride to occasionally ride the subway or the bus.

One of my first rides in New York was around the west side of Manhattan on an unseasonably warm day in February 2002. I had parked my bike is on W 187th Street in Washington Heights.

As I mentioned earlier, the base fare remains at $2.75. Until it reaches $3.00, it won’t yet be double what it was when Metrocard was introduced in 1997. Perhaps, it will have doubled by the time the MTA introduces the OMNY payment system over the next few years.

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