Ride the whole system, all for the low price of [insert current fare here]! That’s been the beauty of New York City transit. But the variable pricing afforded by unlimited-ride cards has blurred that distinction, and new MTA chairman, Jay Walder, may erase it: he is looking at “time-of-day pricing” — cheaper fares for non-peak hours on buses and the subway, like on the LIRR and subway systems in other cities. He believes this might “generate the revenue we need and get more people to be using the transit system at different times of day.” That is, if you weren’t going to go to Manhattan to catch a show on Wednesday, you might be moved by a 25-cent discount on the way back at 2 in the morning.
Second Avenue Sagas raises a demurrer. “Would daytime discounts make as much sense for Times Square as they would for, say, the Brighton Line in Brooklyn or a 4 train at Woodlawn?” he asks. On the other hand, “Variable fares… could help spread out the pain of a congested commute.”