Super Bowl Sunday is drawing near, and the first indication is the commemorative cards an MTA vending machine near you is spitting out.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority has printed up one million Super Bowl edition MetroCards in all — 250,000 each of four total commemorative designs, accounting for more than a quarter of the cards printed and distributed this month.
Technically, the Super Bowl cards are advertisements, a service for which the NFL paid somewhere between $250,000 to $450,000 ($.25 to $.45 per card), but you can go ahead and consider them collectors items anyway — if not as token of Super Bowl XLVIII, than of the good old days when the subway system operated on paper tickets.
The MetroCard, which replaced the subway token, was introduced 20 years ago this week, and this week the MTA said the MetroCard itself would be following in the token’s slow, plodding footsteps toward obsolescence. By 2019, the agency hopes to have phased out the MetroCard entirely. Instead, riders will be able to pay with a bank card or a smart phone — the MTA just hasn’t figured out exactly which yet.
The upsides are many — less pollution, less risk of losing your card, less time spent getting through the turnstile — but there is at least one downside: less advertising space, and no collector’s cards.
All the more reason to buy a soon-to-be retro MetroCard today. Distribution of the Super Bowl editions cards will continue through Monday, February 3 but, oddly, only at 400 of the subway system’s 468 stations. (We’ve asked which stations, and will update when we hear back from them.)