Along with the MTA fare hike that went into effect on Friday, New Yorkers have another fee to worry about: a $1 “green fee” every time you purchase a new MetroCard instead of refilling an existing one. The fee is expected to bring the MTA about $20 million.
The MTA first made the option of refilling MetroCards years ago, and refills on unlimited ride cards were only made available last year. Less than 13 percent of people that buy unlimited cards choose to refill them, and advocates of the new green fee predict that it will improve that rate.
Others support the fee since it will reduce waste, but the plan will have some obstacles to overcome, namely the opposition from people who fear an increase in the cost of living in an already expensive city.
The MetroCard has had issues with durability over the years as well. About 2.6 million are sold each year, and the MTA said that about 30,000 of those are sent back due to damage. About half of the damaged cards sent in are monthly unlimited passes. MetroCards have an expiration date of two years, and riders can exchange expired or damaged cards without paying the fee.
With this new measure, all MetroCards will be able to hold unlimited passes as well as extra money for when your time runs out. Straphangers will also be able to transfer time from a worn-out card to a new card.
A so-called “tap-and-go” system for the MTA has been in consideration to replace the current MetroCard system, but that plan has been pushed back. According to an agency document, the MTA may not be able to afford upkeep on the current system in 7-10 years.
A spokesman for the MTA claimed that the measure is not aimed at making money for the agency, but merely to cut costs and help reduce waste. The agency maintains that MetroCards are durable enough to be able to withstand the two year expiration period.