MTA: Say Goodbye to Fun Cards

Authority to Propose Dropping Fun Pass, 14-Day Card: Sources

Monday, July 26, 2010

MTA officials are planning to eliminate the unlimited one-day “Fun Pass,” saying that the tourist-friendly MetroCards have become too friendly for subway scammers.

The proposal’s expected to come before the full MTA board on Wednesday, along with an array of other fare changes to keep the authority's 2011 budget balanced. Another little-used fare option, the 14-day card, would also go, though less to save money than to simplify the choices that MatroCard vending machines have to offer riders.

Former Gov. George Pataki included the Fun Pass as part of an array of unlimited MetroCards that the MTA introduced back in 1998. At first, it was only sold at tourist locations. But the MTA quickly expanded Fun Pass distribution so that ordinary New Yorkers could also take advantage of unlimited rides for one day.

But transit sources say the one-day Metrocard never really caught on and now accounts for less than 1 percent of all fares paid. They say the Fun Pass also has a sinister side: scammers stand at turnstiles and sell swipes off of them for $2 as people come through. The scammers buy them in bulk so they don’t have to re-use any of them more than once every 18 minutes—the time lag the cards are programmed for. Over the course of a day, each one could be used dozens of times, at great profit to the scammer, while the MTA only receives the $8.25 face value of the card.

The MTA also wants to get rid of the 14-day MetroCard, first offered in 2008 to provide low-income riders better value than a weekly card without requiring them to shell out as much as a 30-day pass requires. But only 2 percent of straphangers use the card, and transit sources say that the other fare changes that will be proposed this week will make the 7-day card a relatively good deal. (The cost of the 7-day card will go up a dollar or two, while the price of a monthly will go up $10 or $11.)

Gene Russianoff, staff attorney at the Straphangers Campaign, had pushed for the 14-day card. He faulted the MTA for not marketing the card more widely.

"I can't say I feel great," Russianoff said. "I had hoped that we would be helping people who could do better than a seven-day card and I'm sad that we didn't convince more New Yorkers to use it."

He said that, ironically, the first time that many New Yorkers will find out about the card will be when they hear of its elimination.

Both proposals will be subject to public hearings this fall. If approved, the changes will go into effect in January.

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Comments [3]

Russ Artuso from Rochester

The one day "fun pass" was the best.Especially when you needed to go to more places in one day
Scammers...according to you they make 25 50 - cents a ride and have to stand there all day .While the transit cops look the other way,What are you going to replace these cards with ?? with
oh ya love the new tolls on the bridges and tunnels

Aug. 20 2011 05:55 PM
Damien Champagne from Brooklyn

Hastily written article with numerous typos.

Dan from UWS has a lot of good points... I'd like to see a rewrite or a follow-up to this story.

I (like more and more New Yorkers) don't take anything the MTA says at face value anymore. I wish "reporters" would actually dig a little rather than parrot quotes from "transit sources". What sources? Why aren't they attributed?

Jul. 28 2010 12:29 AM
Dan from UWS

Some simple questions:

Exactly what fare is paid with an unlimited card?
Is it the single ride price?
Is is the price of the card?

Statements such as, "one-day Metrocard never really caught on and now accounts for less than 1 percent of all fares paid" sound like they make sense, but they really don't.

Please, please, please ask the MTA for stats on cards sold and rides taken.

How many FunPass card were sold in 2008, 2009, and 2010? How many rides with taken with these cards?

Then ask them these same questions for each card.

(Be sure to ask them if "a ride" includes or excludes transfers.)

Are you implying that "scammers" pay wholesale for the FunPass or that buying in bulk means that they buy 18 at a time so these scammers have to wait @ most one minute between swipes?

Here's the commission schedule:

I want to know the amount of commissions that were paid (or incurred); I want to know how much was paid for the each category and the size of the orders--how much was paid @ each discount level. Here's another simple question: What's a batch?

Jul. 27 2010 05:03 PM

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