NYC Straphangers Could Lose Last Bit Of Bonus On A Multi-Ride Metrocard

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 09:14 PM

The value of a Metrocard would shrink if the NY MTA eliminates a bonus on multi-ride cards of $10 or more. (photo by ultrahi / Flickr)

(New York, NY - WNYC) NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joe Lhota wants to either take away or reduce the bonus money from subway and bus riders who use pay-per-ride Metrocards. Right now, riders get a 7 percent bonus when they put $10 or more on a Metrocard. Lhota says he’ll propose cutting the bonus as part of the transit agency’s effort to raise the $450 million needed to balance its budget next year.

"The stated fare price is $2.25 cents, and the average revenue we receive per rider is $1.63," he said. "It shows the depth of our discount system that goes on, and I think we really need to have a discussion of, 'Do we need a discount that deep?'"

Lhota says he'll formally propose the change next month. If the NY MTA Board approves the plan, which would be subject to public hearings in November, the bonus could be gone by March. That's also when fare and toll hikes of about 7 percent are scheduled to kick in.

For every $10 a rider adds to a Metrocard, the card comes out with $10.70, which brings down the cost of a subway or bus ride from $2.25 per trip to $2.10.

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign, a transit watchdog group, said he opposes the idea of cutting the bonus because they're designed to help those with lower incomes. "It's accessible to poor people," he said. "You don't have to have $104 in your pocket the way you do with a 30-day pass, or $29 a week with the seven-day pass."

It was not hard to find riders at the Spring Street stop of the C / E train who frowned on the proposal. A.T. Miller, a temp worker and photographer from Brooklyn, claimed the bonuses have helped him. "If I'm going to do a gig for somebody and I'm shooting somewhere else, I usually end up using two and three rides and that becomes very expensive," he said. "And that helps out with the little bonuses that they give us for buying a $10 Metrocard."

Lower East Side resident Jasmine Villanueva was more direct: "I think that sucks, 'cause I'm already broke."

NY MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg countered that there's only three ways to raise the $450 million needed by the authority next year:

  • Raise the base fare in increments of a quarter. (Raising fares by nickels or dimes adds too much to the cost of collecting fares.)
  • Raise weekly and monthly pass prices in dollar increments.
  • Reduce or eliminate the bonus for buying multiple rides on a Metrocard.

“It's going to be some combination of those three,” he said, adding an assurance that cutting the bonus will not allow the authority to take in more than an additional $450 million next year.

Lhota unveiled the initiative on Wednesday in a Crain's New York Business talk in Midtown Manhattan. Talking to reporters afterward, he portrayed the bonus as an odd vestige of New York's retail culture.

"It's like this unique New York concept of, you buy 12 bagels, you get 13," he said. "I can't figure out when that started. But we had that same theory going on when you bought tokens. You buy 10, you got one free. So the thought was, if you buy $10, you gotta get something additional for it."

In fact, the NY MTA used a 20 percent bonus in the late 1990s to help entice riders to give up their brass tokens and switch to the then-novel concept of a Metrocard.  Over time, the authority reduced that bonus to 15 percent and then the current 7 percent.

Subway ridership dipped after the last bonus reduction and fare hike in 2010--but then rose past previous levels. That's part of why MTA Chairman Joe Lhota doesn't seem worried about reducing the discount, or eliminating it all together.

"There are some people who are basically saying, 'Look, if you don't give the discount, they won't buy a ten dollar card, they'll buy it individually.' I don't buy that, I don't buy it at all," he said. "New Yorkers love convenience."

Pay-per-rides with discounts are the most popular type of fare cards, accounting for more than a third of all Metrocards sold, and more than monthly or weekly passes.


Comments [3]

ניהול תיק השקעות כלל

ניהול תיק השקעות כלל...

... ניהול תיקי השקעות - כל התקשרות שבין משקיע לבעל רשיון, מנהל תיקים או יועץ ההשקעות. אחזקה ורכישה של יותר מנייר ערך אחד מהווים את תיק ההשקעות או לחלופין לתת לבית השקעות לנהל אותו. המניות הנבחרות כדאי ... NYC Straphangers Could Lose Last Bit Of Bonus O...

Sep. 27 2012 02:24 PM

People will ride the subway no matter what in NYC. They are not choice riders, at least not most of them. However, this fact should not allow the MTA to go wild with price increases and reduced service.

With that said, giving people a bonus for purchasing $10+ cards seems a bit crazy, given the fact that people who fork over the $109 for the unlimited get basically what the pay for: the ability to ride the subway roughly 44 times a month (@ 2.5 per ride) before they get their "free rides" which really only benefits those that commute 5-days a week for work or those who are at the mercy of the MTA to get to freelance gigs like the person interviewed... and yet tons of people buy the unlimited, anyway, for the convenience factor.
(and for the most part, people who purchase monthly passes don't get many "free rides" as it is and if people only use their pass to get to-and-from work (10 trips per week * 4 weeks a month) they're actually paying more than the individual cost. Yet they still buy anyway, just in case)
Therefore, raising the cost for Monthly Passes is completely unacceptable because the MTA isn't loosing money in that department.

People who purchase either single-ride cards or say less than $20 shouldn't get more benefits than those who buy in bulk. No, the MTA isn't Costco but it is a business and providing the MTA will a lump sum, upfront payment is more cost-effective in the long run. Those METROCards aren't free to make, most people don't recycle them and people should have to pay for being wasteful or careless with their cards, it's only fair. And although a monthly pass or putting more than $10 on your card isn't cheap it's definitely less expensive than owning a personal automobile or cabbing it everywhere. (A monthly pass equals less than $30 per week, a significant amount if you're on a tight budget but $4.30 per day isn't that much in the grand scheme of the amount of money people spend on 1 Really Expensive Coffee or a beagle every day)

Plus, there are perks to not buying a monthly pass: your money doesn't expire (well, eventually the card does but that takes quite some time) so you have the ability to use it at your leisure and add to it when you can. Also you can combined those cards that have a dollar here and dollar there, a transaction most customers don't know about or take the time to do. This is where the MTA can make money by increasing INDIVIDUAL ride purchases and eliminating bonus for purchases less than $20. No matter what they need to do that in order to run the subway at its current state, never mind better.

What could work, and what could make people happy is for purchases of $20+ there is a progressive discount or even free ride, say after $50, similar to what there is now BUT you'd also get discounts if you add money to a card and hit the $20 mark... and if you have say, $19 on your card and you add just a $1 you get the same discount as someone who bought the $20 flat-out. But this would not be applied for combining cards that hit the $20+ mark.

There's ways for the MTA to meet their budget AND make their customers happy, it just takes creativity.

Additionally, people should be happy the Subway runs 24-7, it's the only one of it's kind in the City... and you wouldn't realize this until you move somewhere, say Boston, where the T stops running at 12:45 (the thing looks like a bus, stops like one too, and as a result is slow and crowded) and cabs are about a third more expensive.

And what I'm about to say might really anger some, but the MTA should charge more for late-night rides between 2am-4:30am.. it's only a couple hours and could really bring in some cash without impacting the elderly, children, and for the most part, poorer populations.

Sep. 13 2012 12:54 PM

Here is where the MTA may be shooting themselves in the foot:

I ride the subway, but only a few times per week. Because of the bonus, I reliably purchase a $20 Metrocard that spends a fair amount of time sitting in my wallet. Often times, I end up losing my Metrocard as things get shuffled around. Here's the rub: I have just paid for let's say 15 rides, with a 2 ride bonus, but only cashed-in on a few of them. That's good for the MTA, right?
But if there were no bonuses, I would only evr purchase single-ride Metro cards. What's my incentive to pay for more rides than I need?
I realize that the MTA can't structure policy based on my errant ways, but I'm guessing I'm not the only rider that thinks about spending more to get a bit of a deal, then ends up losing money on the deal due to lack of use.

Sep. 13 2012 09:01 AM

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