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New MetroCard bonus limits options for full rides


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If you want to avoid winding up with change on your pay-per-ride MetroCard, be prepared to put a lot more money on it with the new bonus system.

Currently, straphangers only have to add $15.65 to their cards to get a whole number rides once the bonus is factored in, but when the reduced bonus kicks on Dec. 30, they’ll have to put on at least $35.75 to come up with full trips.

“It’s was hard before to come up with an even number when using the bonus, and it’s harder now,” said Gene Russianoff of the Straphanger’s Campaign.

The pay-per-ride bonus system has become more difficult for riders to figure out since the MTA discontinued giving straphangers a sixth trip free after five rides. In 2008, the bonus was reduced to 15 percent after $8, and starting Dec. 30, it will be cut to 7 percent after $10.

Riders have said they often toss MetroCards with nickels and partial fares left on them, which has meant big money for the MTA. Unusued MetroCard money brought in $52 million in 2009, according to records.

The agency spends $13 million a year to print MetroCards and plans to start charging riders $1 for new cards sometime next year, an agency spokesman said.

“This is a charge that any customer can avoid, so the surcharge provides a good incentive to refill cards,” spokesman Kevin Ortiz said.

It doesn't apply to refilled expired cards, Reduced Fare passes, and those sold at retailers, he said.

Author and Temple University mathematician John Allen Paulos said people should look at MetroCard change the same way as coins in their pockets.

"If an item costs 89 cents in a store, few would throw the 11 cents away," he said.

Dollar combinations if you don’t want money left over under the new 7 percent bonus system:

Spend Rides
$35.75 17
$37.85 18
$39.95 19
$71.50 34
$73.60 35
$75.70 36
$77.80 37

Source: MTA


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