HOLY CRAP! The MTA Reprogrammed MetroCard Machines to Zero Out After 11 Rides!

Categories: $$$, MTA, Subways

Village Voice photoillustration
Don't be fooled by those tempting round numbers! Go for the odd one!
Update, 3/23/15, 8:15 p.m.
Fare hikes suck. But see what the MTA went and did? You have to look closely, and you have to know what you're looking for. But the Metropolitan Transportation Authority appears to have reprogrammed its MetroCard machines yesterday, deviating from its default settings, which steer purchasers to buy in round numbers that leave them with worthless remainders when the ride-buying is done.

See that $27.25 button there? The one with the (Village Voice–supplied) big green arrow pointed at it? That's the magic number — assuming you're refilling a MetroCard with a zero balance. PUSH THAT BUTTON! MAGIC THINGS HAPPEN!

Trust us: That's your button. Why doesn't the MTA tell you that's the button to push if you want to make everything come out even? We don't know. But we'll call them and ask.

Original story follows:

This Sunday, March 22, the well-meaning folks at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority are poised to louse up New Yorkers' lives by raising bus and subway fares to $2.75 per ride, up from the current $2.50.

For those of us who like to consider ourselves frugal, marginally adept at avoiding being gamed by the system, and socially conscious, the fare hike triggers a two-level reaction.

The first stage of grief: The new fare structure is — like just about everything else in life — unfair to poor riders!

The second stage of grief: I finally got used to putting $19.05 on my MetroCard to keep the MTA from ripping me off with its default purchase options, and what the hell am I supposed to do now that the fare has gone up a quarter and the discount is 11 percent?

Guess what, fellow straphanger: The MTA actually has you covered! Late today the transit agency announced in a press release that it has unveiled a new MetroCard Calculator, "a handy tool that will assist customers with planning a new card purchase or refilling a full fare Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard."

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Ben & Jerry's Co-Founder Ben Cohen Is Stamping His Balls Off to Get Money out of Politics

Categories: $$$, Union Square

Raillan Brooks
Parked on Union Square West, in front of a nondescript NYU dorm, sits a truck painted in primary colors. There's a carnival awning on it. It's high noon, and the shade seems like a nice place to get out of the swelter.

A modest crowd is gathered, less frothing political rally and more absent passersby watching older men tinkering with a Rube Goldberg machine on the back of a car. By 12:30 the crowd is mostly people who heard some white guy was passing out dollar bills.

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Kenneth G. Langone, Controversial NYU Trustee and Citizens United Provocateur, Is Major Lhota Backer

Kenneth Langone's latest political investment.
On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court decided that corporations were people, too. The Citizens United ruling unleashed a new wave of influence in American elections; one that still has modern democracy reeling, as the last presidential election witnessed billions of dollars coming in from all over the country. Mega-millionaire Kenneth G. Langone, 78, was (and still is) at this frontline of legal corporatism, and his ties are everywhere, including NYU's much-talked-about loan compensation program and the wallet of the Republican frontrunner for City Hall, Joe Lhota.

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The MTA Is Raking In Serious Cash From Your Wastefulness

Wikimedia Commons
It's been almost exactly two months since the fare hike for our city's public transportation went into full effect. Overnight, straphangers' wallets were a little heavier, facing a permanent $2.50 per ride fee as well as bumped-up prices for weeklies and monthlies. And presumably, no one was happy.

But there was another roadblock we'd now have to face collectively as commuters: a $1 fee if we decided to buy a new MetroCard instead of replenishing the value on our old one.

Naturally, it's a pain for those who've lost their golden tickets but the measure was an incentive snuck into the fare hike to discourage New Yorkers from wasting plastic (by the thousands). You would think we'd think twice about tossing our MetroCards into the trash once their lives ended. Turns out we didn't... and now the MTA is making much more money than expected from the tiny provision.

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Governor Cuomo Asks Con Ed to Freeze Executive Bonuses

Categories: $$$, Con Edison

WanderingtheWorld (www.LostManProject.com) via Compfight cc
Last week, the New York Times published a searing piece revealing that Con Edison, which is currently undergoing an investigation for its handling of superstorm Sandy, was paying its top executives more than $600,000 in extra bonuses for 2012.

"In our judgment, the company performed in exemplary fashion," Con Ed compensation committee chairman George Campbell Jr. told the paper, despite the fact that it took the utilities company four to seven days to fully restore power to 1.1 million of its customers in the aftermath of the hurricane.

Both Governor Cuomo and City Council Speaker Quinn have criticized Con Ed for its executive reward system and Sandy dysfunction, but today the governor asked Con Ed to suspend its bonus payout. "No ratepayer should pay a single penny for bonuses given to senior utility executives, especially for bonuses awarded for their performance during Sandy," the governor said in a statement.

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CHARTS: Mayoral Candidates' Incomes, Minus John Catsimatidis

Categories: $$$

Johnny Vulkan via Compfight cc
Several of New York City's mayoral hopefuls released their tax returns or reported their 2012 income this week to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Below is a quick breakdown of what the candidates made in 2012 by sector, though the figures for Sal Albanese, Anthony Weiner (who hasn't formally announced his candidacy), and Adolfo CarriĆ³n Jr. are actually total household income, including spouses' earnings.

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John Raskin Has a Plan to Make the G Train Less God-Awful

g train.jpg
G is for greenbacks, baby.
It's been a long, mean winter for the MTA. In 2010, the agency's budget woes led to a 7.5 percent fare increase, 1,000 lost jobs, and draconian service cuts across the boroughs. In 2011, Governor Cuomo reached an agreement with unions to freeze wages, and 2012 got by, barely, without cuts or hikes.

But now for some good news: 2013 is looking way, way better. And as the Voice's John Surico mentioned last month, there's even a little unexpected cash involved--the 2013-2014 budget passed in Albany surpassed the MTA's expectations by some sweet $40 million. Now, the obvious question: How the hell do we spend it?

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Nearly Half of New York City Lives in or Near Poverty

Categories: $$$

Who said the recession was over?

Coming off the news that New York City's homelessness population is at Great Depression levels, the Bloomberg administration released a report this weekend that hammers that whole neo-Gilded-Age income disparity issue home. In 2011, the population of the city living in or near poverty levels rose three points from 2009, reaching an astounding 46 percent. That means that nearly 3 million inhabitants come within 150 percent of the poverty threshold. This was two years ago.

And that imbalance is so clear that you can see it in the subways with a recent infographic provided to us by the New Yorker. Almost half of the greatest city in the world lives in or near poverty levels.

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The 'Anyone But Quinn' Campaign Paints Speaker as Bloombergian Nightmare

You might've already seen this little snippet released by New York City Is Not For Sale 2013 (that's a mouthful).The video opens to a "smoke-filled room" with four stools in it, where the viewer would assume the City Council Speaker makes shady deals with business-type folk. She's charged with a pseudo-liberal appeal that is more rhetoric than substance.

It's a part of a million dollar "A.B.Q.--Anybody But Quinn" campaign, which has been put together by the union forces left over from Bloomberg's 2009 re-election. It'll be on major cable networks in the days to come as the first notable attack campaign launched thus far (and this early) in the mayoral race. Also, it represents the political landscape of a City Hall race post-Citizens United, where money and politics are two sides of the same shitty sword.

The electoral aim of the video is Quinn's worst fear: to be painted as Bloomberg Jr.

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Obama Team to Support Gov. Cuomo in Campaign Finance Reform Battle

Boss Tweed, Thomas Nast.jpeg
In January, Gov. Cuomo reiterated a point in his State of the State address that he's made since his first day on office: New York needs to completely overhaul its campaign finance system ASAP.

"We must enact campaign finance reform because people believe that campaigns are financed by someone else at exorbitant rates," he told the audience. Except, in a modern political landscape where voices are heard through dollar signs, his plan has not made it out of the rhetorical stage.

But maybe a boost from a victorious White House team will help a bit.

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