Here’s How the MTA Fare Increases Add Up Over the Course of a Year


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has approved a fare hike that will raise the cost of subway and bus rides by 25 cents starting on March 22.

The increase will see single-ride fares jump a quarter, to $2.75, and will apply to monthly and weekly passes as well. Weekly MetroCards will rise to $31 (a $1 increase), and monthly passes will now cost $116.50 (a $4.50 increase).

The overall base fare will rise from $2.50 to $2.75, and customers will receive an 11 percent fare bonus for every $5.50 spent (that’s up from the current 5 percent bonus for every $5 spent).

The rate hike shouldn’t have come as a surprise. In November, MTA CEO Thomas Prendergast warned that despite the transit authority’s having cut $1 billion in expenses, “a modest fare and toll increase is necessary to balance our budget against the increased costs of providing the bus, subway, railroad, and paratransit service that is the backbone of the region’s mobility and economic growth.”

We decided to break down just how much these increases are going to cost over the course of a year — and what else you could be buying with those extra quarters and dollar bills you’ll be transferring from your pockets to the card dispensers. As they say in the infomercials, tax, tip, and shipping and handling are not included.

Monthly users
The $4.50 bump for the unlimited monthly MetroCard means New Yorkers will be spending about $54 more a year. This will make these items seem like luxuries:

• A bottle of fancypants Guerlain moisturizer at Bloomingdale’s
• An all-ribcap steak, deemed “the best in New York,” from the Bowery Meat Company
• This cozy-looking flannel shirt from L.L.Bean
• A pair of glitter-encrusted Toms shoes for the bougie do-gooder in your life
16.4 Super Burritos from Trader Joe’s

Weekly users
Weekly (seven-day) unlimited MetroCards will now cost you $52 more a year. Save the cash you’ll now need to give to the MTA by summoning some restraint. Try not to spend your dollars on:

• This delightful plush padded cat bed on Etsy
• Fifty-two cans of Arizona Ice Tea or 52 rolls of toilet paper from your favorite deli
• This clock that looks like a giant orange elephant

Per-ride users

If you ride the subway once a day, five days a week, all fifty-two weeks of the year, that’s going to be a $65 increase. Or, enough to buy:

More than twenty gallons of milk from Walgreens
• From Starbucks, 18.8 chai lattes
• This “modern Arrow/Aztec” print duvet cover for a baby’s bed
• Or, if you like your buys to come without a side of colonialism, this painting of a cup

Now, we know that many who use single-ride tickets or base fares don’t ride the subway every day. And our calculation of the per-trip price increase doesn’t include the new 11 percent bonus, which amounts to $0.60 for every $5.50 you put on the card at once.

These fare increases won’t affect every passenger equally: As you may have noticed, the spike for weekly passes will be marginally smaller than that for monthlies. That’s a good thing. According to the MTA, 7-day MetroCards are more likely to be used by low-income groups, while 30-day cards are used by “all income groups.” Since 2008, the MTA has been bridging that gap, reports WNYC:

Weekly riders used to pay 30 percent more per day than 30-day holders. Now they pay 14.8 percent more, and after the March fare hikes, they will pay 14.04 percent more.

But a 25-cent increase for single-ride tickets and base fares will also likely hit poor customers the hardest. They’re the most likely to pay for trips with single-ride tickets or cash, according to an MTA survey. And they’re the least likely to take advantage of the MTA’s fare bonus for putting more money on one’s MetroCard all at once.