The MTA Is Raking In Serious Cash From Your Wastefulness

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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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The Basics Of Sunday's MetroCard Fare Hike

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On March 3rd, the MTA will seek budgetary revenge on straphangers. Sorry, it's happening. And we're being service-y because it's the only thing left to do before this fare hike takes effect on Sunday.

So here's what you should keep in mind before you swipe your life away.


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Nothing's Fun About The Proposed MetroCard Fare Hike, But You Already Know That

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Every year or so, the story writes itself the same: The MTA needs more money to pay for the rising costs of Everything. Passengers get pissed. Proposals get thrown back and forth. Passengers get even more pissed. Fares go up. Passengers shrug, deal with it and move on.

(The only curiosity in this whole process: have you ever seen Union Square at around 8am or 5pm and then proceeded to ask yourself, "How the hell is the MTA not making huge profits?")

With that being said, the news of the proposed (and probably definite) fare hike for that little yellow slip in your wallet will not really be that shocking.

Before Sandy hit, the MTA was messing around with a few ideas; one of which would have done nothing but raise the monthly MetroCard up to $125 (bye bye, Manhattan friends). Now, a month after MTA's costliest disaster in history, it seems as if the agency has come to a conclusion after a week of hearings on the matter and will vote tomorrow on said proposal.

And here's what that proposal looks like, fellow straphangers.


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Did You Lose Money on Your MetroCard Because of Sandy? Well, Sorry...

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On October 2, as a necessary measure for almost every Brooklynite, I bought a 30-day unlimited MetroCard for $104. On October 29, Hurricane (Superstorm? Is that a thing now?) Sandy barreled through New York, crippling electricity, homes, and, specifically in this case, the entire subway system. If we're looking at the estimated transportation costs (which, in terms of priorities, is nothing compared to the storm's greater damage), my wallet is down $26.

In a normal situation, if service is down on a subway line you depend on, the MTA refunds you about $3.50 for your troubles. But Sandy was the furthest from normal -- the subway system was closed down for days, and, if we multiply $2.50 by 8 million commuters, that's already a $20 million-a-day loss right there. Factor in the loss of equipment and the wages of workers who worked their asses off to bring back the subway system at a literally remarkable rate, too. What you're left with is an MTA that is out a ton of money.

This is probably the reason why, as of yesterday, the MTA has made the decision to not refund MetroCards for the time being. Or those who ride the MetroNorth and LIRR. And the explanation we just gave fills in the void left by an agency who is not giving a reason for the decision.
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Your MTA Card Will Now Look Like a Mini-Billboard!

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MTA
On January 25th, 1999, the first MetroCard vending machines were installed at subway stations across the five boroughs. Within a few months, the subway token was phased out of circulation as the simple swipe replaced the insert-coin-here system. We've had these shiny MetroCards ever since -- whether they're a single, weekly, monthly, or one you just always carry around for good luck, the gleaming yellow certificate with the blue MTA insignia handed you a swipe to see the city.

And, now, they're going to look like cut-out coupons thanks to a new redesign, brought to you by the MTA (and the Gap . . . and Domino's . . . and whatever other company can get a solid bid in for that pocket-ready ad space).

Yesterday, the first of the MTA's new branded MetroCards made an appearance at a few stations in Manhattan, like Union Square and the 34th Street stations. As seen on the right, it is a blue card with a Gap slogan ("Be Bright NYC") and includes the instruction to visit its new flagship store on 34th and Broadway. 

So this is what modernity looks like.

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MTA Funding Fail? Straphanger Advocates Say Andrew Cuomo's Plan Will Up Fares

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Looks like Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York legislature might have just brokered a deal that would fund the remainder of the MTA's five-year capital plan. But straphanger advocates say that Albany's agreement will make riders foot the bill for transit improvements.

Cuomo and legislators OKd an accord on Sunday to provide money for the next three years of the improvement program -- which would cover the cost of projects like the Second Avenue subway and green bus programs, according to the Daily News.

Some financial intricacies reported by the News and The Associated Press suggest that a big chunk of this $13.1 billion deal would be funded by debt -- prompting protest from commuter allies such as Transportation Alternatives.

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Transportation Advocates Fight Planned MTA Fee Increases (UPDATE)

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The MTA will increase fares again in 2013 -- meaning that riders will be hit with the fourth such fee hike since 2007.

While this isn't exactly breaking -- the New York legislature long ago gave the green light to transit rate increases every two years -- what's worth mentioning is that transportation advocates have not given up the fight against these raised rates.

Here's what's up: Fares will go up 7.5 percent at some point in 2013, MTA Spokesman Kevin Ortiz tells Runnin' Scared. The exact number isn't clear because it will be based on revenue, he says.

Transportation Alternatives, however, is using the looming prospect of higher fares as an opportunity to voice concerns about the city and state's management of mass transit money.

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New Yorkers Say the MTA Is Bleeding Them Dry

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What sucks even more than commuting to work?

Having to wait longer and pay more to commute to work, that is.

Unfortunately, it looks like that's exactly what's happening in New York.

Check it out: Transportation Alternatives, a commuter-advocacy group, surveyed a bunch of New Yorkers last week to see how happy they were with subway and bus service.

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Top 5 Alternatives for Getting From Brooklyn to Manhattan

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Following a weekend of service changes on the G train that, again, kept many from going anywhere (let alone to that foreign place called Manhattan), another issue came to our attention: Cabbies aren't going to Brooklyn anymore, either.

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MTA Reminds Us, Again, That Our Unlimited MetroCard Could Go Up to $130

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We've heard this again and again. Your MetroCard is going to cost you more -- maybe even $130 -- $41 more than you pay now. In fact, we're starting to suspect that in an effort to numb us to the idea of an increase the MTA is just repeating this over and over and the media is reporting it as "news." To get them to stop, we'll eventually roll over and accept their $130, or whatever they decide to punish us with -- as if we have a choice, anyway.

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