All that yellow plastic you see scattered around the floor of your favorite subway station may look cheap and disposable.
But the MTA says it costs the agency $20 million a year to print and clean up those cards. So the MTA is now planning a $1 surcharge on MetroCards to help offset the cost.
The MTA insists regular riders will hang on to the cards they have, and refill them, instead of buying new cards and paying the fee.
That would lead to less waste, cleaner stations, and less overtime spent on the janitors who have to pick up the discarded cards.
"We support it," said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign. "The goal is to discourage people from flinging their MetroCards on the ground to create litter. It's pretty easy to avoid the dollar."
Of course, out-of-towners and others who've never owned a MetroCard would have to fork over the fee.
The question, of course, becomes -- what happens to damaged, lost or stolen MetroCards?
The MTA promises no surcharge for riders who follow the usual instructions of replacing the card by mail. Even unlimited monthly cards, which as of now can't be refilled, would be reconfigured in the future to allow for re-use.
"It's a step in the right direction," said Russianoff.