Saturday, March 21, 2009


Metrocards show up regularly on my plastic tally. I buy the Monthly Unlimited card, which is not refillable. Here's what I just sent the MTA:

I am trying to reduce my use of disposable plastic, and blog about it at

Currently the Unlimited Monthly Metrocard is not refillable, resulting in me and many other New Yorkers throwing away a plastic Metrocard each month. I want to be able to refill it, and past that, recycle it. Will this ever be possible?

The EasyPay XPress Pay-per-ride option would allow me to refill a single Metrocard until it expires. But as a daily commuter, it would be significantly more expensive than my Unlimited Monthly card.

I would greatly appreciate any information you can provide on options the MTA is considering to make Metrocards more environmentally friendly. I would especially like to know why the monthly unlimited cards cannot be refilled.

If my pockets were deeper, I'd consider the refillable pay-per-ride option, but the cost difference really is significant. Here is some math:

Cost for a single ride: $2

Monthly Unlimited Card: $81/month
- used 2x/day for 30 days: $1.35/ride
- used 4x/day for 30 days: $0.68/ride
- used 2x/day for 26 days, 4x/day for 4 days: $1.19/ride

Pay-per-ride Card: 15% discount on purchases of $7 or more, $1.70/ride
- used 2x/day for 30 days: $102/month
- used 4x/day for 30 days: $204/month
- used 2x/day for 26 days, 4x/day for 4 days: $115.60/month

In order for a pay-per-ride card to cost $81, the price of an unlimited monthly, I'd have to only use it 2x/day for 24 days a month. But I'm a daily commuter. There are very few days I don't ride the subway, and many days when I make more than one round trip.

Am I willing to put my money where my morals are, to suck it up and pay at least $21 extra a month for a refillable card? I guess this is a case where my pockets are shallow, and so am I. :(

Here's hoping the MTA has some good news for me. There must be some cost-related reason for not making the unlimited cards refillable. I wonder what it is.


Dr. Engine said...

What about an EasyPayXpress Metrocard? That's automatically refillable and you can keep the same card for two years.

Juli said...

Well, the EasyPayXpress Metrocard is exactly the option I considered in my post, because you are correct- it automatically refills and you can keep it until the Metrocard expires. But you pay a lot more for the privelege. It is an option I can't afford.

Kinchi™ said...

Are you speaking of the 30-Day Unlimited EasyPayXpress Metrocard or the Pay-Per-Ride one?

If its the 30-Day, how does the math work out into you "pay[ing] a lot more for the privilege"?

...just curious?

Juli said...

@Kinchi: at the time I wrote this post, the 30 Day Unlimited Metrocard was not available with the EasyPayXpress program.

Now it IS available, and I have one! I'm very happy to no longer have to buy a new 30 Day Unlimited card every month-- because they weren't refillable and I had to throw them out. I did an updated post about it- if you search the tag "metrocard" you'll find it.