New York City Transit’s Inconvenient Pricing May 5, 2012

New York City, much to my disappointment, has discontinued its transit one-day unlimited ride ticket.  [You can still get such a ticket for a week, but I’m never in town that long.]  What you can get is cards with $10.70 worth of rides for $10.00, $21.40 for $20.00, or $53.50 for $50.00.  This sounds like a bit of a bargain, and I suppose it is.  But each individual journey costs $2.25.  None of these cards are evenly divisible by $2.25.  I did the math and figured out that if one adds 55 cents to the $10 card, $1.10 to the $20 card, and 50 cents to the $50 card, it will all come out even and the value of your card will be divisible by $2.25 and no odd cents are left over.  But it seems to me that they could sell a card in an amount divisible by $2.25, or raise the price to $2.50 and eliminate the “bonus,” and it would come out even.

Transit pricing has a tradition, in America, of being in uneven amounts and not making a whole lot of sense.  Especially when bus systems require “exact change.”  I often don’t venture on buses, unless I know that they are on the same tickets as the rail systems, for this very reason.

jelowsky 05/05/2012

Thanks, Howard, for stating what I’ve always found to be a problem about the NYC MTA. I never understood the reason for buying a $10.70 [albeit for $10] when I knew that I would have to replenish it because there would some odd amount left over that I couldn’t use on the next ride. It would be so much easier if the cards were geared towards what the actual fare is, as you recommend. People who just visit the city for a few days end up leaving the city some of their money on those cards – which is why I think they do it. I keep my metro cards in my wallet for the next visit, only to find out they’re expired and I have to go to the kiosk to get someone to reactivate it, which isn’t all that practical when you’re rushing to get somewhere. But I almost think they plan for that too. . . .

craigblanchard 05/05/2012

Odd amounts or even, New York’s transportation system is great and compared to the lousy system in Los Angeles it makes some sense….cents?

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