Outsmarting the MTA transit system

Hoboken to NYC commuters – learn this tip today!

Thousands of Hoboken residents commute to and work in New York City – and often use the MTA NYC Transit System (and the corresponding “Metro Card” for payment.)

And I’m sure more than one of you has been in a hurry only to find out that you come up a nickel short on your fare, and miss your train as a result. Damnit! Why is that? Well, apparently it’s by design.

I Quant NY shares a simple tip – that instead of using the “pre-populated” purchase options when buying your MetroCard (i.e., $19.00) that you manually type the amount (in this case $19.05), and it will give you an exact number of rides – instead of some “leftover change.” They break down the fare amounts in an easy chart for your reference on their website.

And as a result of this “bad math,” the MTA receives $50 million dollars a year in unredeemed balances! That’s lottery money for God’s sake. Imagine if that was put to good use and out of the hands of some inept government agency?

411 Note: While this is certainly a helpful tip – I liken this to gas in your gas tank. NEVER let your gas go down below 1/4 tank, and people should learn to do the same on their metro cards. Better yet – use the EasyPay Xpress option and never worry about your MetroCard balance. But we understand some people live paycheck to paycheck, or don’t trust their financial info in the hands of morons.

Outsmarting MTA subway metro card NYC

(h/t Rob for the info!)

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2 Comments on "Outsmarting the MTA transit system"

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rich k
rich k

This is why your MetroCard has an expiration date – the MTA can’t claim those $2.45’s until after that date. But while the odd cent amounts are annoying to us ADD types, it really is only that – annoying. As long as you’re a regular rider, you just continue to add fares, and from time to time stop at a booth and transfer the remaining balance to a new card.
Where they make their money is on the float (the millions in unused fares that are on cards at any moment in time), and the balances visitors take home with them after they buy a $20 MetroCard for the $2.50 trip to and from the two hour line to see Carlos for six minutes.


This is only good advice for another two weeks…until the PATH fare increase on 10/1. Then it becomes useless.