Are Unlimited Ride MetroCards A Good Deal? Not For A Lot Of People Who Use Them

The New York Times had an article today about the 10 year anniversary of the unlimited MetroCard and how it has transformed way people use the subway. They even included a graph that showed how many times people are using their cards in a month. What they didn’t mention is that a lot of people are buying the card and not hitting the “break even” point of 46 rides per month. Hmm.

For those of you not familiar with NYC’s MetroCard system, it works like this: If you buy individual rides, after $7 you get a 15% bonus, making your ride cost $1.74 instead of $2.00. The unlimited card costs $81. So to “break even” you’d need to take about 46 trips within 30 days, or 1.5 trips every day — even on weekends. Obviously, there are a lot of people using unlimited MetroCards when they would be better off buying trips in bulk. Why are they doing this? Who knows. Maybe they don’t have to pay for the cards themselves. Still, it’s a lesson that can be applied to “unlimited” deals of all types. Make sure to do a little math before you buy an unlimited pass.

Subway and Bus Fares [MTA]
In Decade of Unlimited Rides, MetroCard Has Transformed How the City Travels [NYT]
It’s the distribution, stupid [frumination via BuzzFeed]

Comments

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  1. xmarkd400x says:

    Even if I was only a couple trips shy of the break even point I’d consider the card worthwhile. I wouldn’t have to carry around change (plus) and never have to worry about not being able to pay (plus) and its easier to budget for (plus).

    So what if I lose out on $3 for all those plusses?

  2. My family loves the unlimited cards. Taking trains and buses into account we make about 4 trips a day. So easily break even.

    I guessing most people who get the unlimited card use transit checks from work. Which from my understanding come from your pretax income So there really not paying for it.

  3. Mollyg says:

    The graph clearly shows that the average is higher then the break even point, thus the cards are a good buy for the majority of the people who have them.

  4. Can’t edit :( Another good thing about the card is if you loose it you can get your money back if you used a Credit card to buy the card. Not sure if the MTA refunds money on a pay per trip card

  5. Nissan288 says:

    100 trips? in a month? really?

  6. Angryrider says:

    I don’t care. I use public transportation at least 2 times a day, and often 3 times. Even on weekends I still have use of the card since a family member uses it anyway. Calculating how much I spend if I didn’t have an unlimited, it would be about $100.

  7. @Nissan288: That’s just a bit more than 3 a day.

    To work, from work, then somewhere in the evening/for lunch.

    Doesn’t seem that hard to me, but then again if you’ve never lived in NYC I can see how it would seem strange.

  8. chemmy says:

    I used to only to to-from work 5 days a week (This was when it was still $76 for unlimited and $2.00 a ride with a $2.00 bonus after $10)

    I always bought a PPR card because it only cost me $68 per month (considering the free trips)

    I don’t use the subway anymore so it doesn’t matter…. However, my unlimited Air Train card ($40) pays for itself in 2 work days (I enter at Howard Beach and exit at Jamaica & vice-versa)…. It’s an awesome value considering if I used PPR for Air Train, it would cost me $400 (4 paid trips per day x 20 work days x $5 per trip)

  9. dragonvpm says:

    @Mollyg: That’s a good point.

    The graph does seem to show that most people who have the card do better than break even and this does make sense for anyone who has to use the card for work (i.e. 2x a day M-F). On an average month that already puts them at around 40 trips just to get to and from work. In the course of a month I’m sure most people would then use another 6 trips easily to hit the break even mark.

  10. Etoiles says:

    I always had unlimited cards in New York, until the last 4 weeks I lived there and knew I wouldn’t make it.

    22 work days in a month = 44 rides. It’s really, REALLY easy to come up with two more MetroCard swipes in an average30-day period. Just going shopping and running errands and meeting a friend for dinner, on a Saturday, can use 4 swipes.

    Now here in DC, where using the Metro costs an arm and a leg per trip, it’s a little different…

  11. RagingBoehner says:

    I went through this in DC with the unlimited bus card when I commuted by bus every day. It’s $11 a week versus $1.25 a ride individually (assuming Smarttrip use).

    I found I didn’t take the bus every day but there was a huge mental value in being able to hop on any bus, anytime and not worry about the cost. It didn’t matter how far I was going or whether the bus ultimately took me where I was going. If there’s a bus heading my direction, hop on!

  12. RagingBoehner says:

    @EtoilePB: True, although Metro is more of a hybrid subway/commuter rail so comparing a trip from Gaithersburg to DC is more like a Metro North comparison than an NYC subway.

    @Mollyg: The cards SHOULD be a good buy for everyone who uses them — the fact that 25-30% of NYC unlimited pass holders are flushing money down the toilet is a little disconcerting.

  13. ianmac47 says:

    Riders were trained to use the unlimited ride cards when the cost per trip savings made the break even point at many fewer rides. But since the MTA is grossly incompetent, they have continued to increase fares. Fares on the unlimited rides are the first to go up. Soon the cards will cost so much the break even point will be 8 rides a day and everyone will keep buying the cards because they think its cheaper.

  14. Murph1908 says:

    I think a missing piece of this puzzle is, those who may have been below the break even point one month may have been above the point another month.

    The graph above just shows the usage per card. If I use my February card 60 times because it’s cold, but happen to walk more and use my May card less because it’s nice out, I probably even out on the ‘worth it’ side. But if I plan for that ‘hmm, May is nice, so I’ll not get the monthly card’, and it rains 15 days of that month, I lose.

    And as xmark said, for many, the convenience is probably worth the extra $.

  15. bluebuilder says:

    Ever been in a hurry and have to stand in a rush hour long line to buy a metro pass? Swiping a card just to breeze through can be worth a lot in convenience.

  16. bigtimestuff says:

    I must be an extremely active person, because I use my card well over 100 times in a month. I assumed everyone else did to?

  17. rachmanut says:

    The break even point is lower for companies who subsidize the cost of an unlimited Metro Card, and this isn’t reflected in the MTA’s statistics. I used to get a fully subsidized pass on the MBTA in Boston and while I only used it a handful of times a month, it sure was nice to know I had the world of public transit at my fingertips.

    You feel more powerful with an unlimited card in your hands. It’s more than just the money, it’s the not having to scrounge for change or stop at a kiosk to re-up your card (or, in those days, buy tokens).

  18. chrisjames says:

    Maybe they just over estimated the amount of times they’d be riding the subway.

    20 working days a month * 2 rides a day = 40

    Looks like a pretty huge drop below 40 on the graph.

    Given that the curve looks like a proper distribution, even skewed slightly towards overuse, the “below 46ers” are a natural effect. The break-even is designed to take that into account. It’s a business choice. Educate the customers to shift the curve to the right and they’ll likely raise the price or restrict usage, shifting the break-even along with it.

  19. cristiana says:

    I get the unlimited card, and I am just under the break even point. I usually take 10 rides a week, and the break even point is 10.5. But, I get the unlimited so I only have to get one card a month. Also, if you purchase an unlimited card with a credit, debit or ATM card the MTA automatically insures it in case it gets lost or stolen. So even if the individual rides are cheaper, the convenience and insurance make it a better deal.

  20. chiieddy says:

    I used to work for a company that paid for my monthly transit pass (and they do the same for those in their NYC office). If you’re getting the pass for free from work, why not take it?

  21. KernelM says:

    Huh. In Chicago you could get a rechargable card that worked either as a monthly pass or as pay per ride, and if you linked it with a credit card it would automatically recharge either way. Pretty much the only maintenance you would have to do yourself at that point would be updating your billing information.

  22. Geekybiker says:

    Unless I’m well below the threshold, I’d rather have unlimited. I hate feeling nickled and dimes, and I’d hate to not take trips because I kept thinking about the fare cost.

  23. ChristopherDavis says:

    In Boston, with the MBTA’s LinkPass, the breakeven point is at 34.7 subway or subway+bus rides. That’s trivial to get if you commute (18 work days will do it); if not, you only have to average 1.25 one-way rides per day, even in February of a non-leap year.

    If your employer participates in the corporate pass program, you the convenience of automatic renewal, pre-tax payments, and possibly some level of employer subsidy. If they pay for half of it, and you pay for the other half with pretax money, you’re out of pocket something like $20-25 depending on your tax bracket; break-even is then about 15 rides a month, or two round trips a week.

  24. Mistrez_Mish says:

    I use an unlimited Metro card and I’m enrolled in my company’s transit check program. Having to use my card twice a day (that’s to and from work), for other work-related ventures, and my personal weekend use (I prefer to stay in my neighborhood… I’d say that I use about… on average… 4 weekend trips per months), it’s a deal for me. Plus with the Transit Check program, the unlimited monthly card fee is deducted from my check pre-tax, so I save $300 + a year.

  25. GilloD says:

    I know I break even, but even if I didn’t I like having the peace of mind that getting off at the wrong stop or just going out at night won’t cost me extra.

  26. Corydon says:

    My riding in Denver on RTD is damn close to the break even point if all you do is look at the price of a monthly pass and the number of trips I take.

    However, by using the service my company offers, I get my passes mailed to me every month (very convenient) and I save a little bit because the passes are taken out pre-tax like health insurance.

    When you factor in the lack of worry about monitoring my transit usage for trips other than work commuting, it still makes sense if I overpay RTD every now and then. At least my money’s going towards supporting a good cause.

  27. madrigal says:

    @ChristopherDavis: This is great for me because I take two buses to get to work. Plus I enjoy it renewing every month because I would definitely forget to go to a station and buy a new one.

  28. mmcnary says:

    When visiting a city with a good mass transit system, I make it a point to try to find out about unlimited weekly passes. For out-of-towners, it is a godsend to be able to figure that you are heading west toward the Bay, just grab anything going that direction and worry about route maps later…

    Even if you’re only there 3 days, it still beats driving or trying to get taxis.

  29. dweebster says:

    The pure “financial” breakeven doesn’t take into consideration all the other benefits that outweigh pure 1:1 $$ accounting on this.

    1) MUCH less stress
    2) Improved time processing ticket
    3) Less investment of time vs. spent buying and accounting for <46 individual rides
    4) Money supports a public good AND gives direct benefits
    5) Encourages more use of the system thus making oil-laden politicians more accountable to support public transit.

    on and on.

    When I have jobs that make unlimited Public Transit cards viable, I buy them and use them to expand my lifestyle toward making greater use of them. If I overspend by a few bucks over individual cards or driving, I still come out ahead.

  30. For me, this time of year, it is not worth it. I walk to work in the morning from Penn station (about 2o minutes) and sometimes I walk back as well.
    I’ve been keeping track of how often I use it, and even in the winter, it is barely worth it.

  31. AidelMaidel says:

    At our office we have a 132 transportation plan (the same thing as Transitchek, just employer administered), that only allows you to make a change in deduction once per quarter. That locks you in to a set fee.

    In order to make life easier, I just take a monthly at $81 and the two months of the year I know I will be out on vacation for a week I take a pay per ride.

    Since I, like most NYCers, don’t own a car. I use the subway or bus to get EVERYWHERE. Do you know what a pain it is when your metrocard is out of cash and there is no agent and no working vending machine? The once a month convenience is worth the occasional month where I don’t make up the two or four rides to break even.

    Additionally the guarantee that if it’s lost or stolen will give me a refund is GREAT. That guarantee is only on unlimiteds. Do you know how much it sucks to lose a PPR metrocard with $20 or $40 or even more on it and have no way of getting that money back? The unlimited gets you the funds back within 5 days of filing the claim, while it’s only good for 2x per year, it’s totally worth it. Do you know how many times I had a toddler take it out of my bag and misplace it???

    All that being said, if you are not commuting at least 5 days per week, it’s a better choice to go PPR and not put more than $20 on it at a shot.

  32. silkyjumbo says:

    here in atlanta, a MARTA one way fare is $1.75. a 20 trip card is $30 and a monthly unlimited card is $52.50. once i quickly realized i would be paying $60 a month for my trips to work, i opted for the unlimited.

    another bonus – on board entertainment like soulja girl.

  33. DanGarion says:

    The common sense approach to anything that gives you unlimited service is to find out much you normally spend and determine if your normal expense is above or below what the unlimited expense would be. Rocket scientist not need to be present to determine basic math. But I can understand that some people might have a hard time determining what they spend on transportation since most people don’t keep a budget (me included, but at least I know how much I spend on things).

  34. Squeaks says:

    Most months I’d used the monthly pass on the MBTA system in Boston. When I got laid off, I still wanted the pass, even though I wasn’t going to be using it as often, if only to feel like I didn’t have to pay for each ride. It’s definitely psychological in that way. I’m more willing to go out somewhere or travel around town if I know it’s not going to cost me any more. Last month I bought the pass, this month I’m trying the pay per ride setup, and I’m going to see what’s better when you’re not commuting every day.

  35. meg9 says:

    I wish DC had this. Metro gets very expensive here.

  36. jenl1625 says:

    @RagingBoehner: It’s not necessarily that folks are regularly flushing money down the toilet. . . There are various reasons why someone might have an unlimited pass and then not use it enough for it to pay off.

    For one, they may be using pre-tax dollars to buy the pass (so it costs them less after-tax money, changing the break-even point). For another, they may usually use it often enough to break even, but then this month they became unexpectedly ill and were off work a few days or a week (or the company unexpectedly sent them on a business trip), dropping them below the break-even point.

    But then, there are probably quite a few incapable of doing the math and paying more than they need to.

  37. MercuryPDX says:

    @xmarkd400x:
    Unlimited passes only count for just you. Pay-per-ride will work for up to four people.
    [www.mta.info]

    Unlimited cards expire within the specified time period (7, 14, or 30 days) after your first use, and if unused expire in a year. You need to mail it to the MTA to get that addressed. Pay-Per Ride cards expire a year after your last use, and you have two-years to get any remaining balance transferred to a new card at any subway booth.
    [www.mta.info]

    They even have one now that will automatically refill to your “minimum” using your debit/credit card: [www.mta.info]

    Pay-Per Ride with the discount always seemed to be the wiser choice IMHO.

  38. Yogambo says:

    You should investigate this curve in some other heavy commuter markets. Here in DC we don’t have a one month unlimited offering. I wish we did. We do have a one-week unlimited card which is a no-brainer for some outlying commuters. The math is easy: 10 trips at $4.30 = $43 versus the card at $39. Then, DC Metro offers pretax through employers dropping that down to about $33. You could do the same for straight trips as well though. But it leaves a $4 gap per week ($16 per month) and it adds so much convenience. No worries about short trips or errands taken via Metro during lunch or after. I only wish that A) they’d integrate it into their SmartCards — something on the horizon, they say B) an unlimited Metro card that includes bus transit C) A month-long unlimited option.

    NYC Metro offering seems to be following a similar pattern to all you can eat mobile services — people just can’t use enough to justify it. Recent reports bore this out. Sorely tempted by ‘more minutes’ a quick check of my usage revealed it wasn’t worth it. I just didn’t use them. Same went with Netflix ~ it wasn’t possible to watch them all. And the same went with Vonage ~ unlimited sounds great, but we never broke 500 minutes. In all cases, stepping down meant a lower cost and a more accurate reflection of actual usage.

    It’s like buying that gallon of mayo. It may seem like it’s the deal (lowest cost per ounce, minute, etc.), but in two months when it starts molding, that excess proves to be a stinky waste. It’s hard to resist that more is better when in some ways it is. But it’s all too often just a lure that often does not pay off, as is the case in NYC.

  39. theblackdog says:

    I wish the DC Metro had this. I pay their highest rate each way (4.50) and without the monthly transit subsidy from my employer, it would get very expensive.

  40. picardia says:

    I always use right at the break-even point — some months I’m a little over, some a little under. But what the others have said is true: not having to wonder if my card is running out/miss the train because I’m trying to feed a wrinkled $20 into a grumpy machine is worth occasionally fronting the MTA a few bucks, especially as I make it up other months.

  41. If I hadn’t bought an unlimited card when I lived in NYC, I would have never gone anywhere. I worked two or three different jobs which meant 3-4 trips in one day. I was so broke I often didn’t have the extra cash for a subway trip. I still have the last one I bought back in Dec 1997 in my scrapbook. I wonder if it’s still good?

  42. krom says:

    My guess/hope is that a lot of the people behind the break even point are getting passes from their employers.

    $81 for no-limit transit per month? Nooyockas are getting a steal! You ought to compare that $81/mo for unlimited rides with the cost of comparable transit passes in other cities — my current Seattle area transit pass is $126/mo and it covers rides somewhere in the mid-above-median fare range.

    I guess that’s what happens when your city is really, truly, no-crap, must-have serious about transit, instead of being sort-of, kinda-shoulda-woulda, nice-to-have, good-idea, pet-project about it.

  43. Yogambo says:

    @theblackdog: You need to sign up for the Weekly Fast Pass. It’s $39, saving you six bucks a week. You can buy them at the fare machine, or buy them in bulk — a month’s worth — through the Commuter store.

  44. cordeliapotter says:

    In Chicago 5 years ago, the monthly unlimited ride pass was $75, and I very easily got $100 worth of rides off it.

  45. @RagingBoehner: “the fact that 25-30% of NYC unlimited pass holders are flushing money down the toilet is a little disconcerting.”

    I think it’s great.

    That means that MTA can keep ticket prices lower than if everyone was using their tickets the most effective way possible.

    The more the merrier, I say.

  46. Benny Gesserit says:

    Are they tax deductible? Canadians can claim passes on their income tax (but it’s limited to monthly ones, I believe. I’m a walker so it’s a little off my radar.)

  47. veronykah says:

    Since moving to LA and using the metro here I REALLY appreciate the MTA in NYC. The unlimited metro card was fantastic. I agree with some of the other posters, it sure beats having to stand in line to purchase a ticket. In my experience, if you have to buy a ticket that is ALWAYS when the train comes. I like to be able to just swipe my card and get on.
    Here you either buy a ticket EVERY TIME you get on a train and even when you switch trains or buy a pass for $68/month. Unlike NYC an unlimited pass here to me is useless. There is no way I would ever use the metro that much. It does really suck to have to buy a pass each and everytime I use the train though.

  48. Jacquilynne says:

    When I was in university, I preferred to get a card, even though I knew for a fact that I wasn’t going to use it enough to make it cheaper every month. If I had to buy tokens, every trip I took off campus would make me thing ‘Is this worth the $4 round trip?’ I’d often decide not to make a quick run for groceries, or go meet a friend for a movie, because it seemed like too much cost to do it.

    Even though my TTC pass cost more in the end, I didn’t have to make the decision every single time. And while that was probably bad consumer behaviour, it made an appreciable difference in my social life.

  49. sean77 says:

    @Pixelantes Anonymous: too true. It’s no coincidence that the break even point is in the center of the graph. If people started riding more, MTA would increase the price of the pass to move the break even point to the right… thereby keeping it in the center of the graph.

  50. forgottenpassword says:

    since I have never been on a subway before (I live in the midwest) …I was wondering if you could share the use of those cards? Or are there people there making sure you are the rightfull user of the card?

  51. AidelMaidel says:

    @[consumerist.com] – you can share cards – they are not limited to an individual, say like the Egged monthly bus cards in Israel. That means if you work the day shift and your spouse works the night shift, you could ostensibly pass off the card to one another. BUT, and it’s a big BUT, you can’t use the cards for re-entry for 18 minutes from the first swipe.

    The people who really do the best on the unlimited metrocards are messengers who often times need two unlimiteds to work – because you cannot swipe a card for 18 minutes.

    For example, if I ride the subway one stop, get out do my thing and then try to swipe again within 18 minutes of the initial swipe, it will deny me entry. So no, you and your friend could not swipe two times at the same time to ride together. Although I have seen plenty of people swipe, hand it back to their friend/spouse, and wait 18 minutes on the other side of the turnstile for the card to become valid again. Depends on how broke/thrifty/desperate you are.

  52. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @jenl1625:

    Why would using pre-tax $ change the breakeven point? You can buy pay-per-ride metrocards with pre-tax $ as well.

  53. AidelMaidel says:

    @forgottenpassword: Sorry that comment above was for forgotten password.

  54. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @AidelMaidel:
    Actually, you can’t swipe twice _at the same stop_ for 18 minutes. You can swipe at Times Square at 10AM, ride to Penn Station, get off, exit, and re-enter at 10:14AM, no problem.

  55. AidelMaidel says:

    @JustThatGuy3: You can only buy pre-tax if your employer offers it. There are plenty of hourly employees in NYC who don’t get this benefit. Doing $81/per month pre-tax on a 26 week payroll only changes my take home by about $20-30 per paycheck. That feels to me like I’m getting an $81 benefit for half price.

  56. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @jenl1625:

    The one really dumb thing is that there’s a $115 ceiling on the amount you can spending monthly on public transport and have it come from pre-tax $, but a $220 ceiling on commuter parking costs. Why the tax code gives a bigger benefit to people who drive than take the train is beyond me.

  57. dweebster says:

    @krom: Gotta love the irony of giving transit subsidies to those fortunate enough to have a job.

  58. dweebster says:
  59. Kajj says:

    @KernelM: The Chicago Card is pretty amazing, I think. Since you can switch between a “refillable” card that deducts money per ride and the flat-rate version just by going to the website and changing your settings, it’s really easy to adjust for usage. I had the flat-rate card for years, and even in months when I wasn’t quite hitting the break-even point, the extra money was worth it to me for the convenience.

    Also, the card works for both busses and trains, so it’s pretty easy to hit the 3 or 4 rides a day it takes to break even.

    Now if only the CTA’s customer service phone tree wasn’t so godawful.

  60. dweebster says:

    @JustThatGuy3: Sorry, might as well add the text:
    Auto lobby spends $70 million
    Efforts to influence fuel economy standards largely drive record figure; GM leads industry with $14M.
    David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

    WASHINGTON — The automotive industry spent a record $70.3 million lobbying Congress in 2007

  61. Seems a bit like the ole college meal plan to extract maximum profit from students that will fail to meet the breakeven requirements of the plan.

  62. Triborough says:

    I always get the value and then some. I think the best I got one month was about 90¢ a ride. Then again it pays to know your patterns and what is best for you.
    I have explained to wayward tourists the whole concept and wind up saving them money, plus giving them a positive New York experience.

  63. Narockstar says:

    @dweebster: It’s not irony. It’s a benefit, like health insurance or vacation time.

    My employer gives us a $60 transit subsidy for those of us who live in the city. The rest of the cost of the card is taken out before taxes. During the winter I definitely use more than the break even. During the summer, my main form of transportation is a bicycle, so I’ve started selling my monthly cards to friends for a profit and doing pay per ride for myself. It’s like free money.

  64. La-la says:

    @Kajj: True story. I never thought I’d actually be COMPLIMENTING the CTA but I guess I have the best of both worlds with my Pay-per-use Chicago Card (smartcards), where I get the same discount as unlimited, get it purchased pre-tax for me, and I can choose to put my $65 a month on (I don’t quite ride enough to make to the $75 unlimited, or did it go up to $81 after all? Plus a transfer is only 25 cents, which seems to be any time you swipe within 3 hours of your last swipe, so when running errands/transferring buses, my rides don’t really add up). Now if only my super awesome Chicago Card hadn’t magically partially deactivated itself so that it won’t always read, but I guess we can’t expect the CTA to be perfect…

    Also, am I understand you that some of your employers PAY for your transit cards?? Mine is just facilitated by them. That is mind blowingly awesome. Yay supporting public transportation!

  65. AriellaFaerie says:

    As an NYC gal transplanted to DC, I sorely miss the unlimited Metrocard. My husband easily spends about 200$ a month commuting. 81$ a month would be a bargain. We once joked that the people of NYC would mutiny if the MTA used DC style pricing. wouldnt it cost like 6 bucks to get from Coney Island to the Bronx?

  66. I envy all of you with your efficient and comprehensive mass transit systems. Here in L.A., I would have to take 3 buses to travel 8 miles from home to work. The total trip time would be 1 hour and 20 minutes. And there’s a 40 minute “layover” in there waiting for the 3rd bus. So, I would have to leave home at 6:45 am to make it to work before 8:30. Driving, I leave home at 8:10. Sometimes, the MTA is convenient, and when it is, you can’t beat the sixty-some-odd dollar pass, especially with gas prices the way they are. I just can’t wait until the system here gets better.

  67. FatLynn says:

    @JustThatGuy3: Also, some employers don’t let you change it that often or only let you have them in certain amounts. At my company, you can have them in intervals of $15, and it takes two pay period to process a change.

  68. azntg says:

    It’s about time that the Consumerist puts up an article like this one!

    Personally, I think I get my money’s worth when I do go to college. In all but one semester, my classes are spread out over 5 days, so I swipe my card at least twice (if not more, if I choose to make a detour) a day.

    On Saturday and Sunday, I pass the card to my mom, so she can save $6 (only one ride on Sunday) on travelling to/from work.

  69. LostAngeles says:

    I get an unlimited pass for the quarter for the system here in Los Angeles. It’s subsidized by the school so my pass for the quarter is about $50 (I have to be enrolled). So if I do the three quarters + summer session, that’s $200/year. Buying a monthly pass is $52. Parking permit for campus is something like $300/quarter.

    Mind you, it’s still about an hour to an hour and a half to go about 12 miles, but the price is great and it’s time I can either study, do homework, knit, read, or play games instead of clenching my wheel, teeth, and sphincter while spewing words of hate.

    @FightOnTrojans: I’d openly agree with you, but I think that’d get me expelled.

  70. synergy says:

    I have no earthly idea what it costs to run that NYC system, but I’m glad my monthly, unlimited pass on our buses is only $25. Considering I work 20-23 days a week, each trip is $1, I’d be spending at least $40 a month on the bus without the pass.

  71. whytheladyisatramp says:

    i used an unlimited for a couple years, even though i was often under then break-even. i lived close to school, generally walked or biked, but hated feeling like i was having to think about the per-trip price if i did multiple errands on the weekends, or if the weather was bad. that benefit was worth the loss of $10/month to me. now, though, i really almost NEVER take the train b/c i live 4 blocks from my job, and as a resident never do much besides work anyway. so, i stopped with the unlimited. no longer worth it.

  72. OsiUmenyiora says:

    For me, I probably would be past the break even point IF I bought an unlimited ride card. Because then I’d use it more, including for short journeys where I now walk instead. But I buy by-the-ride in bulk and pay the $1.74/ride, and because I pay for each ride I use it less and stay below the break even point and pay less money overall for public transportation. So what the heck am I trying to say???? I don’t know except that I get to feel good about myself whichever card I buy.

    And thank god my commute doesn’t depend on gas prices!

  73. Kloud says:

    @chrisjames: Ding ding ding!

    With this said I didn’t see a need for any response thereafter.

  74. notbob50 says:

    I buy one when I visit the city a week at a time twice a year. The subway is the best way to get arounfd town. I probably use it five or six times a day when visiting. Very convienent and a reasonable price.

  75. @LostAngeles: Bahahahaha! I was reading your comment and knew *exactly* which *school* you go to.

  76. theblackdog says:

    @Yogambo: Good idea, except I can’t apply Smartbenefits funds to buy them.

  77. ephdel says:

    my company subsidizes my commuting costs, including my unlimited ride card. i receive a free card every month, and use it maybe 5 times a day, which is great. on top of that, my PATH Smartlink card is partially reimbursed, making it a $20 card as opposed to a $54 dollar card. can you guess who I work for?

    Getty Images actually, the source that most gawker media sites get many of their their images from. (everyone here loves you guys!)

  78. sciencegeek says:

    I’m was actually quite pleased to realize that I’m paying too much for my unlimited metrocard. I recently started biking in to work a few days a week, but I still have the unlimited metrocard that I bought before I started biking. When this card runs out, I’ll switch back to buying a pay-per-ride card.

    In the meantime, I just wish they weren’t running shuttle buses for the 1 between 215 and 137. When it is in the upper 90s, I’d rather not bike.

  79. Coelacanth says:

    @MercuryPDX: No, it just requires crunching some numbers. I live within the city, I do not drive, and I’m usually taking 4-5 rides a day, seven days a week.

    Even without the TransitChek discount, the PPR doesn’t make sense at all for someone like me.

  80. jetpack says:

    It is always an advantage to study the math and understand what you’re doing.

    1. More use of public transit does NOT necessarily mean less oil use and pollution. The NYC subways has it’s own coal fired power stations in the city to prove that point. Walk instead, or better yet, don’t live far from where you work.

    2. $81/month is more convenient that $65/month? how? Just because they offer all you can eat doesn’t mean that you should do it.