MTA Wants to Limit "Unlimited" MetroCards - NBC New York

MTA Wants to Limit "Unlimited" MetroCards

'To infinity and beyond' no more for monthly MetroCards?



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    Next time you buy a MetroCard, thow down an extra $4.50, $6.75 or $15.65 to get your money's worth.

    In a continued effort to scale back costs, the MTA's "unlimited" monthly and weekly MetroCards may take a hit--from "infinity and beyond" down to 90 and 21 rides respectively.

    The MTA says only about ten percent of unlimited card buyers go over 90 swipes a month, sources told the New York Daily News.  But those ten percent include messengers, journalists, and others who travel frequently for their jobs--not to mention you social butterflies who use the unlimited cards for personal travel.

    The news comes a week after the MTA also revealed it was considering a $1 surcharge on all MetroCards to encourage riders to save and replenish their cards instead of throwing them out, thereby reducing printing costs.

    "I'm concerned," Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign told NBCNewYork, "but I'm waiting to hear what they eventually recommend....We have a 'show me' attitude."

    The projected plan would also increase the monthly cards' cost by $10 to $99, and the weekly by $2, to $29, sources told NY Daily News.  These prices would have to be higher without capping the number of rides, said the source.  It's all part of the MTA's plan to raise revenue by 7.5% next year.

    The MTA is hoping the caps on the weekly and monthly cards will stop scammers who buy the unlimited cards and then swipe people through for less than the $2.25 cost of a single ride, Russianoff explained.

    But the unlimited cards have their advantages, critics say.  The Straphangers' Campaign estimates that the MTA makes "tens of millions upfront" every month on unlimited monthly card sales.  Further, "fair media liability" returns--the amount of unused trips on all metrocards--returns about $50 million annually, said Russianoff.

    The final decision will be made on July 28th at the MTA's board meeting, when the 2011 budget is due.  If the motion passes, Russianoff speculates, the MTA will hold several public hearings in the fall to discuss the details of the change.  Then the oxymoronic "limited unlimited" cards would go into effect in January 2011.