Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Straphangers Frustrated Over Odd Amounts Leftover on MetroCards by Robert Johnson and Pete Donohue - NY Daily News

This is a pet peeve of mine, I must have twenty or more Metrocards with various amounts left on them, it's annoying and when you to try to have a token clerk put them on a new card, they usually will only do one or two...And, contrary to the article, I bet it is a goldmine to the MTA (and intentional)...

Read original...

Many straphangers are disgruntled by the leftover fare on their MetroCards, which is sometimes just a few cents, but cards can be consolidated or refilled with any amount. Smith for News

More than a year ago, the MTA changed the formula for getting bonuses on pay-per-ride cards - making it more likely passengers will end up with a balance after they've taken their last trip.

And many riders don't know what to do with the leftovers. They won't make a turnstile spin, but they're not exactly worthless.

"I have a whole pile of them sitting in a jewelry box on top of my dresser," said Megan Hunt, 36, of Chelsea, who works in print production.

"There are at least 40 cards and some only have a nickel. I don't know what to do with them, but I can't throw them out."

Laura Bowman, 41, a paralegal who commutes to the city from Mount Pocono, Pa., has "a bunch of cards with just 20 or 40 cents each." Periodically, she just throws them away but the waste grates on her. "It's frustrating," she said.

MetroCard math became difficult when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's old easy-to-grasp, 20% bonus - buy five trips and get a sixth free - was reduced to 15% last year.

Buyers are ending up with odd amounts left on their cards - the MTA wouldn't estimate the total - and some apparently don't know how to ensure the money is spent.

They can add value to any MetroCard to make it worth a full ride, or consolidate cards at a token booth, NYC Transit spokesman Charles Seaton said.

They can also sign up for EasyPayXpress, which acts like an E-ZPass to automatically replenish MetroCards from debit or credit card accounts.

To help the numerically challenged, Jim Schwartz, a market researcher who commutes from New Jersey, recruited two friends to compile the Transit Calculator/Spreadsheet. It shows what denominations to put on a card to wind up with a zero balance at the end: $4.50, $6.75, $15.65, $29.35, $31.30, $45, $60.65, $74.35 or $76.30.

Schwartz says the MTA should put the calculations done by his number-crunching pals, Peter Anzalone and Rich Sulin, on its Web site.

"Riders could use the help," said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign.


MTA wouldn't estimate the total -"