A Requiem for the $2.50 Metrocard

March 20, 2015 | Liam Mathews

The newest round of MTA fare hikes go into effect this Sunday. A single ride will increase from $2.50 to $2.75, a weekly Metrocard from $30 to $31, and a monthly from $112 to $116.50

The fare hikes come at a terrible time for the MTA’s public image, with debilitating delays on the L train happening on two successive days this week, the “endless nightmare” of the 7 train, and general malaise on all the other lines, but sure as winter turns to spring, the hikes are happening. The last fare hike happened in 2013, which was when the $2.50 single ride took effect.

$2.50 was a good number for a single ride. It meant a $5 dollar round trip. It was symmetrical, and therefore felt like a reasonably fair price to pay to get around. $2.75 and $5.50 just aren’t satisfyingly round numbers.

A monthly Metrocard will cost $54 more annually. You will be able to afford one less dinner date this year.

The MTA has a useful calculator for figuring out how to program a card. Gothamist and I Quant NY have also each broken down how much money to put on your newly more-expensive Metrocard in order to maximize efficiency and make sure no money gets trapped in bonus-induced “Insufficient Fare” purgatory. I Quant NY recommends paying $22.30, which adds an 11% bonus, for a net of $24.75, equal to nine rides and not a penny left over. There’s no longer a possibility of balancing a Metrocard on an even number of rides. Like I said, the MTA is destroying the symmetry.

But before we all rush to condemn the MTA, even though the service is terrible, remember that the MTA is underfunded by the state government. The Authority’s ridership and debt each keep ballooning while Governor Cuomo is diverting millions of dollars a year from the MTA to plug in the state’s budget. The state government needs to allocate more money, or the problems are only going to keep getting worse.

RIP, $2.50 single ride. You were okay while you lasted.

(Photo: Mr.TinDC)