The value of lost, expired or unused Metrocards over the course of a year adds up to a hefty $52 million. To encourage riders to keep better track of cards, the MTA will start charging a $1 Metrocard replacement fee later this year.
The program is expected to net $20 million from both the fee and the diminished costs associated with having fewer Metrocards -- to print, program, recycle and clean up -- in circulation. The MTA also hopes the surcharge will lower the 15 cents is spends on fare collection for every $1 taken in.
"Our study concluded that the great majority [of unused Metrocards] ... results from Metrocards that are lost, misplaced, sit in one's bag/dresser/wallet forever and get forgotten about or belong to visitors who've left town or ex-New Yorkers who've moved away," MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said in an email.
"These occurrences wouldn't be significantly affected by a surcharge," he said.
Nearly half of all Metrocards sold are pay-per-ride rather than unlimited. As of now, 7- and 30-day unlimited cards must be discarded when they expire. But riders will be able to refill them once the fee is imposed. No date has been given for the switch.
A common problem for some transit users is to have a Metrocard with a leftover fare that doesn't add up to a ride. Riders can have the amounts from several cards consolidated onto one card by station agents.
Damaged cards that are not expired can be taken to station agents, who will swap the old balance onto a new card.
Expired Metrocards that still has value can be mailed to the NYC Transit for a refund within two years after purchase. Pre-addressed, postage-paid envelopes are available at subway station booths and on buses. More details can be found on the problems page of the NYC MTA website.