Figuring out Fares

In New York, the easiest and most affordable way to travel across the city is to take the subway, but it took me several months, if not more, to figure out if I was a pay-per-ride sort of person, or an unlimited-ride card straphanger. I considered that my regular routine required me to take the subway to and from work Monday through Friday, which meant about 40 rides a month, plus 10 or so other rides for the weekend or nights when I had other things to do. So, 50 rides multiplied by the $2.25 fare equaled $112.50—more than the 30-day unlimited pass, which cost $104.

So, the 30-Day unlimited ride card is what I should buy every month, right? Normally, yes, but then I forgot that the pay-per-ride card gives you a 7 percent bonus fare for every $10 you spend, so you get $10.70 for every $10 you spend. I’m counting pennies here, but, maybe I won’t be given this option anymore, because New York’s M.T.A. is considering eliminating the 7 percent bonus fare next year. I quickly checked to see if either Chicago, or D.C. offered a bonus fare, and it looks like those cities do not. As an unlimited card buyer, I won’t be affected—except for the amount of money I put on my emergency MetroCard pass. Yes, I keep a backup fare card, mostly to use for JFK Airport’s AirTran, which doesn’t accept the unlimited fare card, but also to use when I see those two terrible words just as a train is pulling up to the station: Insufficient Fare. You know how that can be.

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