NYC Subway Gets More Expensive For Most Riders

NYC’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted to raise subway fares today.

From the New York Times:

The base subway and bus fare will remain $2, but an overwhelming majority of riders — who use unlimited-ride MetroCards or get a discount for buying multiple rides at once — will have to pay more, starting on March 2. The costs of unlimited-ride cards will rise to $81 from $76 for the 30-day card and to $25 from $24 for the 7-day card; a new 14-day card will be sold for $47.

The bonus for regular pay-per-ride cards will be reduced to 15 percent from 20 percent, but the threshold for receiving the bonus will also be reduced, to $7 from $10. With the bonuses in place, the average cost of a bonus ride will rise to $1.74 from $1.67. The express bus fare ($5) and the cost of a 7-day express bus pass ($41) remain unchanged.

The MTA says the fare increase is necessary because they’re facing a billion-dollar deficit.

Board Approves Subway and Bus Fare Increase


Edit Your Comment

  1. UpsetPanda says:

    Um, hey, yeah the Metro board here in D.C. voted to do that a week ago, where was Consumerist? :-P I’m peeved at the government for upping fares AND parking for commuters.

  2. oneTee says:

    it’s amazing that the price keeps going up and the service keeps going down. If only there was something we could do about it.

  3. pda_tech_guy says:

    OK??? I dont understad why consumerist poste this one. Why should I care? Bus fares increased in Orange County CA, but it wasnt posted on the consumerist.

  4. snazz says:

    the unlimited card is now more expensive for weekly commuters than the pay if you go option. $81 unlimited is 40.5 rides pay as you go, however with the 15% for pay as you go, $81 = 46.5 rides. average commuted takes the train 40 times in a month.

    shouldnt monthly commuting cards be less than the pay as you go option? an incentive to buy the monthly?

  5. bnet41 says:

    When you look at the sheer size of the NYC system it’s actually amazing they don’t charge more. I have paid more in other cities for a much smaller and less convenient system. They are very liberal with the transfer rules and you can basically go extremely far for $2.

    I can’t imagine the upkeep costs for the system. Especially when you consider how old it is.

  6. Coder4Life says:

    Because this blog is ran from NY. So that is why that is on here and not the other states. Idk just a guess..

  7. Beerad says:

    Yeah, I don’t really mind the fare increase – it’s 5 bucks per month extra for UNLIMITED use (pre-tax through TransitChek). As BNET41 points out, the thought that you can basically ride from one end of Brooklyn to the other end of the Bronx for $2.00 is ridiculously cheap (yes, I know most people don’t take the train that far, but the point is that flat pricing is a bit odd). I’d just be happy if they figured out a way to help sick passengers without bringing the entire subway line to a complete halt for 10 minutes.

  8. Munsoned says:

    @CaffeinatedSquint: AGREE!!! Our Metro fares are now $4.50 one way for the long trips (i.e., MD/VA suburbs into DC). I’ll start caring about NYC’s fares when they reach HALF of DC Metro’s rates!

    NYCs regular base rate fare remains unchanged. “With the bonuses in place, the average cost of a bonus ride will rise to $1.74 from $1.67.” Are you kidding me? Consumerist is posting about a $0.07 increase?!?! Where’s the justice!?

  9. Freedomboy says:

    I don’t know,…….. it impacts millions of people, maybe THAT’S why it’s here? Could be.

  10. JustAGuy2 says:


    This really isn’t anything new – monthly has always only made sense if you ride the subway more than just for work. NYT ran an analysis, basically came out that you should keep buying what you were buying (for any given usage pattern, the same option, monthly or pay by the ride) still worked out to be cheaper.

  11. Stan LS says:

    Want lowe fares? Do away with the unions.

  12. theninjasquad says:

    That’s a bargain, I wouldn’t be complaining at that price. For unlimited usage, its still a hell of a lot cheaper then owning a car. Things have to go up in price at some point, that’s reality.

  13. PeteyNice says:

    @pda_tech_guy: you realize this happened in New York City, NY right? If it happens in NYC everyone cares. That’s just how it is. Remember a few years ago when ConEd took over a week to restore power to parts of Queens? That was a major national story. I hear some poor slobs in flyover states are still without power from some storm they had last week. That isn’t news though since it happened in places that don’t matter. In short, if something impacts consumers in places that matter Consumerist is there.

    As for the current fare hike…didn’t the MTA have a multi-billion dollar surplus a few years ago? What happened to that? The MTA needs to be more accountable if they are going to come with their hands out every couple of years.

  14. HeyThereKiller says:

    @PeteyNice: They gave LIRR and MetroNorth customers that buy monthly tickets free metrocards… the further out on in CT or Long Island you live, the richer you are, the more expensive your ticket, the more free stuff you got.

  15. ColoradoShark says:

    @pda_tech_guy: You just don’t understand that New York City is actually the center of the universe! Am I right, Ben and Meg?

  16. saury316 says:

    I honestly think the MTA should switch from a flat fee to a structured fee based on how far you are traveling.
    Many many many other countries/subway systems use a similar method quite successfully and efficiently.

    You swipe your card on the way in, swipe it on the way out, and it automatically deducts the value from the card.

    In Hong Kong we have a similar system as described, but we have a thing called an Octopus Card (wiki it..), which basically uses RFID (i believe). So you don’t have a card you need to swipe, you just hold your wallet, purse, or now watch, next to the sensor pad for about .5 second, and thats it. You can use the same card on the subway, on buses, ferries, trams, at 7-elven and circle K, starbucks and other coffee shops, vending machines, supermarkets, mcdonalds and similar fast food places, and soon in taxis/cabs as well.

    When a system is so wide spread, the general population will soon catch on. All you need then is a tourist card (3 days, 5 days), and then nearly everyone has a card like that, and you don’t have lines at machines.

    (To refill value you can do that at any of the above mentioned places as well)

  17. UpsetPanda says:

    @PeteyNice: So by that thinking, Consumerist should’ve posted about the D.C. fare hike because not only is D.C. the nation’s capital, a major city, it also has commuters from Maryland and Virginia.

  18. Beerad says:

    @Stan LS: Wha? Are you implying that the unions are responsible for the “absurdly high price” of public transit in NYC? Because, uh, it just ain’t that expensive, bub. As several people have pointed out, it costs a lot more in many other places.

    The city has a huge vested interest in keeping fares low: it’s public transportation, so it needs to be affordable for commuters who may not make a lot of money in the first place. Also, they’ll do just about anything that helps reduce car traffic.

    IIRC, there isn’t a public transportation system in any metropolitan area that actually runs a substantial profit (although no, I don’t have a source to back that up at the moment). Given the costs needed to operate the system, any price that would result in a profit would be too high for users to accept. Thus, it gets subsidized by the government, and ultimately by the taxpayers.

  19. gorckat says:

    Um, hey, yeah the Metro board here in D.C. voted to do that a week ago,

    What I hate about DC metro is the parking lots that require the $10 card but don’t (or didn’t last year) have signage stating so clearly.

  20. Crymson_77 says:

    And the latest government a$$rape? In Dallas, they are planning on charging for the use of the HOV lanes. Doesn’t that defeat the f-ing purpose?

  21. chaitea says:

    Yes, we are about to undergo a fare increase here in the DC Metro area. Of note, though:

    “The Metrobus fares will remain at $1.25 per trip if riders pay with
    a SmarTrip card. However, if bus riders pay with cash, the fare will
    increase by 10 cents from $1.25 to $1.35.”


  22. Stan LS says:

    @Beerad: Expensive or not, it’s more expensive that it should be. The guy whose job it is to look left and right before the door closes gets paid $50k – $60k and has ridiculous benefits and early retirement (half salary after 20 years). I am not even sure if a GED is required to do what he does.

    Heck, they get paid more then NYPD!

  23. LynchMob1232 says:

    The best $2 I spend everyday is on my subway ride to and from work. Keep up the good work

  24. Beerad says:

    Here’s a little tip to people who are somehow upset by the editor’s choice of topics: IF YOU AREN’T INTERESTED IN THE SUBJECT OF A POST, AS INDICATED BY THE HEADLINE, DON’T READ IT.

    I don’t understand why you would actually spend extra time whining that you don’t like the article writing up a bitchy comment rather than spending the .2 seconds of mental power to say “Huh, New York, not interesting to me… next article!”

    Then again, I just spent a minute of my time feeding the trolls, so hey, who am I to criticize.

    If you’re truly being hosed and miffed that your situation isn’t garnering appropriate coverage, try that handy tips link up on the side of the page. No guarantees, but at least you’ll have tried. I doubt Meg is reading local media from Orange County or DC about their respective fare hikes.

  25. Munsoned says:

    @gorckat: Yes, that’s the tourist tax. Another great coup for DC Metro: piss off the city’s tourists! Bonus: parking only costs $4 or so (not sure what it is now), so the tourists that are forced to buy the $10 card are invariably left with a useless card that still has unused credit on it. Brilliant!!!

  26. Beerad says:

    @Stan LS: Proof please. I highly doubt that with comparable seniority and experience an MTA subway conductor and an NYPD officer earn the same amount.

    And besides, are you really complaining that $2.00 (less, with pay-per-ride discount) is too much for fast (usually) service from nearly any point in NYC to any other point, regardless of how many miles actually traveled? Those subway car upgrades don’t pay for themselves, you know.

  27. kimsama says:

    @ErnieMcCracken: I third this. Effing metro — yes, it makes so much sense to raise the fares ridiculously high on car commuters from the burbs — that’ll increase use of public transit!

    Really, if I lived way out in MD or VA, I’d just drive, because most parking is like $10/day in the district, and you gotta figure with parking being almost $5 and the metro being almost $5, screw metro!

    @gorckat: Smartrip is only $5, but I know your pain.

    @chaitea: I love this, because I hate getting on the bus after 10 people paying cash — hopefully it’ll encourage some people to buy a Smartrip, now, and save us all time. Wouldn’t it be great if we got a discount on the metro, too?

  28. ptkdude says:

    @Beerad: Why should we expect public transit to make a profit when we don’t expect our roads to do the same?

  29. Munsoned says:

    @Beerad: Can’t speak for others, but my overall point is that NYC’s fare hike is really small (or even nonexistent) especially when compared to the rest of the world. I really don’t care whether Consumerist posts about DC’s fare hikes–our local news covers that just fine. I’m just giving some “color” to the forum so others understand that this is not just a NYC situation, and NYC residents are not getting that raw of a deal comparatively speaking.

  30. Slothrob says:

    Of course, if Albany had agreed to congestion pricing earlier this year, the Federal Gov’t would have given the MTA $500 million, and they could have kept fares exactly where they were. It’s fair though, those guys driving their BMW’s in from Greenwich, CT need it more than those of us who can’t afford cars, what with gas prices soaring so high.

  31. Slothrob says:

    Did that sound bitter? It tasted bitter…

  32. Munsoned says:

    @kimsama: I’ve done the calculations. Compared to the metro parking and fares: driving and parking in downtown DC including gas, insurance, depreciation on the car, etc. comes out just about even. A slight benefit goes to Metro if you miss one day of work but pay for a monthly parking pass. That “slight benefit,” however, is essentially nullified by Metro’s awful service, slow single tracked trains, overcrowding, and inconvenient locations (unlike NY, subway stops are often MILES apart in the DC area). What did DC rank in traffic congestion this year? Was it third worst in the country? This place is a joke. I’d give my right arm to have the NY subway system superimposed here.

  33. Anonymous says:


    Wait, Orange County has buses?

  34. Stan LS says:

    @Beerad: Who’s complaining about car upgrades??? Look at these salaries TWU:
    Bus or Subway Operator US$63,000
    Subway Conductor US$54,000
    Station Agent US$51,000
    Cleaner US$40,000

    $54k? Retirement after 20 years? 20 days vacation? All that sounds reasonable to you for a guy to look left, right, close the doors and announce stations?

  35. leastcmplicated says:

    shit I wish we had a system like that in Atlanta, MARTA (atlanta’s version of a metro system) worst. system. ever.

  36. TWSS says:

    As a point of comparison, a two-hour all-zone (gets you out to the suburbs) ticket on Portland, OR’s transit system (valid on buses, light rail, downtown streetcar, but not the boondoggle aerial tram) costs $2.05. We’ve got a good transit system for a city this size, but it’s nowhere NEAR as complex and far-reaching as NYC’s. So, dollar for dollar, y’all are still getting a bitchin deal.

    If the point is that they’re disproportionately charging heavy users more, well, duh. Heavy users are more likely to have little or no other transportation option. They’re captive consumers, so of course they’re going to charge them more.

  37. LynchMob1232 says:

    @Beerad: $54k in NYC considering the cost of living, transporting hundreds of thousands daily…safely, not to mention dealing with bums who deficate on the train. $54k is underpaid in my book. You actually think all they do is look left, right and close the doors and announce stations?

  38. Beerad says:

    @ptkdude: I don’t expect public transit to make a profit at all. I’m one of those “crazy liberals” that thinks paying taxes that are used to fund public goods and programs is a good idea.

    @Stan LS: I’m sorry, that’s not proof. You could have pulled those numbers out of thin air. Please reference a document that shows how much a subway operator with 20 years experience makes, and one that shows how much a police officer with 20 years experience makes. And, to answer your question, I think it’s crazy at all that the guy in charge of making sure people don’t get crushed to death because the subway takes off while they’re stuck in the door, and does that for 8 hours a day for 20 years makes $54,000 dollars in New York City.

  39. chaitea says:


    Oh, yes. I find myself getting more and more impatient with delays
    caused by people who fumble with correct change, and fare machines that
    stubbornly spit out perfectly legal tender over and over again.

    I’m also fundamentally incapable of keeping track of transfers, and my SmarTrip card does all the heavy lifting for me.

  40. Beerad says:

    @LynchMob1232: Hey, I’m on your side. Don’t get me confused with Mr. “we should be paying people in charge of subway safety minimum wage.”

  41. Stan LS says:

    @LynchMob1232: Train operators deliver them, janitors clean up, there are cops in the subway who deal with bums. You are making it sound like its a one man show. Tell me what else they do, then. I ride the subway every day. All they do is, look left, look right, close the doors – and if you are lucky they’ll announce the station. Its not a high skill professional. Screw the union, let the market dictate teh salary.

  42. ediebeale says:

    1.For all those nonNYCers, $81 might not seem a lot for a monthly card, until you consider that it was $63 not five years ago–so, it’s a huge increase in a relatively short amount of time.
    2.Also, New York receives, per person/rider, WAY less federal and state money for public transportation than anywhere else in the country.
    3. Consumerist is probably covering this because, um, you know New York is the largest city in the country.
    4. Last but not least, service has become worse and worse and worse, and the people who run the MTA more corrupt. So we are rewarded with less service, dirtier trains, incompetent employees, more crime in the system, and a not-small increase in what we pay for all that.

    Rant done!

  43. Beerad says:

    @Beerad: Argh, proofreading for the win. That’s supposed to be not crazy in that last windy sentence there.

  44. Stan LS says:

    @Beerad: Okay. Here ya go:


    “According to the authority, the average subway or bus operator earns nearly $63,000 per year. The average subway conductor earns about $54,000. The average station agent earns about $51,000. A subway cleaner earns about $40,000.”

    Here’s some perspective –


    “The starting salary for a NYC Transit train operator is $52,644 a year, before overtime. In the new contracts that the city’s municipal unions negotiated this year, the starting salary for a New York Police Department officer will be $25,100 a year, which goes up to $32,700 after six months. A New York City firefighter’s starting salary will be $25,100 and sanitation workers will get $26,000 to start.”

    “I think it’s crazy at all that the guy in charge of making sure people don’t get crushed to death because the subway takes off while they’re stuck in the door”

    Blah, blah, blah… Let’s give janitors six figure salaries, after all ,they are responsible for the platforms not being slippery and people not breaking their legs or falling onto the tracks. Face it, its a slow skill job. Let the market determine the salary.

  45. ediebeale says:

    @Stan LS: Totally. During the strike, when all those numbers were bandied about, I was like, “They make what to do what and they can retire with a pension at how many years? No college degree neccessary? I’m in the wrong business!”

  46. Munsoned says:

    One last thought, can’t they make up the shortfall through proceeds from “Operation Lucky Bag?”


  47. mandarin says:

    Wow those guys get paid a lot.

    San Francisco fares go up every year too.. Sucks considering a lot of their buses smell like urine.

  48. Narockstar says:

    I can’t complain because my company partially subsidizes my metrocard and the rest is taken out of my check before taxes, so really a $5 hike is like, maybe $3 more per month.

    And $54,000 in New York City is considered Lower Middle Class, at best.

  49. Electroqueen says:

    @ediebeale: Agreed!
    I’m already pissed that the unlimited cards are so expensive! And the subways never got better, it got worse! And the smells, my god the smells! The city gives them so much money and the freakin’ MTA claims they are making the system better by introduction new trains full of pork. I don’t want a train that has announcements and LED displays, I just want a train that actually works and is clean. I envy those other countries’ metro systems, at least they try to make public transportation an un-nauseating experience.
    If I wanted corruption and pork, I would look to the government for that. It would be great if the MTA was controlled by a government body, rather than some “board of directors.”

  50. spinachdip says:

    @Electroqueen: If nothing else, I wish that the MTA board was appointed by the City, not a bunch of hillbillies in Albany (Spitzer notwithstanding).

  51. neithernor says:

    @slothrob: Silly, those guys are trying to replace their diamond shoes, because the current ones pinch!

  52. neithernor says:

    I find it particularly poignant that this week, my train has been slower and more crowded than pretty much any other time this year.

    At the same time, I feel grateful to not have to own a car.

  53. oneTee says:

    @ErnieMcCracken: that’s because you don’t have as many people using the service each day.

  54. oneTee says:

    @theninjasquad: “That’s a bargain, I wouldn’t be complaining at that price. For unlimited usage, its still a hell of a lot cheaper then owning a car. Things have to go up in price at some point, that’s reality.”

    not having to own a car is one way we justify the high nyc rents.

  55. oneTee says:


  56. Beerad says:

    @Stan LS: Ah, where to begin… So the average subway or bus operator driver) starts at $52,644 and the average pay for that position is $63,000 per year. That doesn’t seem like a ridiculous upswing to me — it’s a hefty starting salary but it doesn’t seem to increase that dramatically.*

    Here’s the NYPD salary webpage: [] According to that, after 5.5 years officers earn $59,588 with 27 vacation days per year (not including overtime, night shift pay, etc; the site says that after 6 years average earnings are $77,000). So your pay basically more than doubles in less than 6 years. That seems like a considerable increase, wouldn’t you say?

    So for comparison, the average overall pay for all operators is around $63,000, while after six years an officer gets about $77,000 (and presumably continues to increase afterwards). If the starting pay for an operator is $52,644 and the average is $63,000, it’s not hard to figure out that your pay rarely tops out above what, $74,000, ever in your entire career? (I’m no statistician and I’m sure someone can figure out the numerical analysis, but you see my point I hope.) And that’s for the OPERATORS, the people who actually drive the buses and trains and make sure that their vehicles don’t kill hundreds of people and/or completely shut down the subway system in a crash.

    Now I’m not saying that the police are overpaid, simply that your claim comparing MTA employess to the police is entirely baseless.

    And to your “blah blah blah…” about six-figure janitors, please stop being ridiculous. As you yourself noted, subway cleaners make about $40,000. Not a princely sum in this expensive city, and these are the people who deal with all sorts of bodily fluids that nobody should ever have to meet.

    *Fun bonus fact: The New York Times Op-Ed you cite for your figures was written by Nicole Gelinas, a writer and contributor to NYC’s very own super-conservative think tank “Manhattan Institute.” Their website currently boasts a delightfully-titled piece called “Stop the Black KKK.” I realize this is off-topic and doesn’t directly address your points, but forgive me if I express skepticism of Ms. Gelinas’ view of the facts.

  57. Meg Marco says:

    @CaffeinatedSquint: @oneTee: I posted this because it affects millions of people, unlike say, the 200 people in Oregon who have complained about not getting their kicker refund, for example.

    It was not posted simply because I live in New York. I’m not a NYC native; I’m from Illinois. As much as it pains me, I do have to cover things that happen in NYC.

    Editorial suggestions (other fare hikes, in other cities for example) can be emailed to

  58. pda_tech_guy says:


    Yes, we have busses. They are extra long hummers. LOL

  59. Stan LS says:

    “(not including overtime, night shift pay, etc; the site says that after 6 years average earnings are $77,000).” Not including? Huh? Your link clearly states

    “When including base salary, average overtime and night shift differential, holiday pay, and uniform allowance, a Police Officer earns over $35,000, on average, in the first year; $45,000, on average, in the second year; $77,000, on average, after 6 years”

    All that stuff is included in the $77k figure. If you include overtime for the operators then they are basically making the same $. Conductors? Slightly less. Compare the dangers and responsiblities between the two.
    By the way, I think $77k that’s pretty much the ceiling for a regular police officer, to move up, yould have to become a detective or lieutenant. Also note, that cops are required to either have 60 college credits or 2 years of active military experience. What’s the requirement for an MTA worker?

    “about six-figure janitors, please stop being ridiculous” Hey man, you are the one being ridiculous with your “in charge of making sure people don’t get crushed to death” shpiel. That’s laughable. The guy outside my office building is throwing salt on the sidewalk right now, he’s responsible for preventing people from incurring injuries. Why not give him $50k and a retirement after 20 years.

    As for Nicole Gelinas, no where did I ask you to consider her “views”, I merely pointed you to the facts presented. NY Times does have an editor and fact checkers you know. as for the “Stop the black KKK”, you just made a fool of yourself. I suggest you read the article. Here’s a sample:

    “But the tacit assumption would appear to be that the staggeringly high murder rate among young black men these days is just the way it is. Mr. Whitlock calls these murders the Black KKK. “

    Mr. Whitlock is a black columnist.

    * Fun bonus fact, MTA workers get 25 days of vacation after 8 years.


  60. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    There’s 200 people in Oregon?

  61. Beerad says:

    @Stan LS: Average pay for operators (including overtime, etc. over all years) is $63,000, ever, compared with $77,000 for a six-year officer (including those things as well). Sorry if that was unclear by my wording. That’s all that bears responding to.

  62. Stan LS says:

    Well, ok. The conductors are still getting too much. These people should be paid at the market rate.

  63. scampy says:

    I wish they would raise the damn fairs in Philadelphia too. Im sick of paying increased taxes to support a money pit that I dont even use just because “they cant raise the fairs because the majority of people who use public transportation cant afford it or wont use it if they do” Im sick of subsidizing other people’s transportation. If I dont have enough money to fill my gas tank nobody is gonna bail ME out. Mass transit is a crappy way to travel anyway as it takes 2 hours to go somewhere that I can drive in 30 minutes.

  64. peteynice says:

    @scampy: Who do you think pays for the construction and maintenance of the roads you drive on?

  65. scampy says:

    People who buy gas and pay gas tax, and pay tolls pay for maintenance of roads, NOT the people bitching about the cost of the city bus going up from 1.50 to 1.75

  66. PeteyNice says:

    @scampy: Fail. Everyone contributes to their state DOT for those projects through their taxes not to mention the federal money that states get for road projects as well. So yes, the “people bitching about the cost of the city bus going up from 1.50 to 1.75” do subsidize the roads you drive on just like you subsidize the buses and trains they ride on.

  67. RagingBoehner says:

    @kimsama: There was talk of them having “Smartrip Express Lanes” in the metro stations too — that would be a great improvement.

    I don’t know where you’re parking in the city for $10/day — it’s $15/day in my building and that’s the cheapest around…

    The reason that WMATA switched to Smartrip only in the parking lots was that Metro employees were stealing cash from the registers, I believe. Not that it makes it any better. And at least $5/day for parking in the burbs is still a below market price. If it’s cheaper to drive for someone, they should drive!

    That’s the funny thing about DC is that there is often not that much traffic for those of us who live in the city — all the mayhem is out in MD/VA

  68. JustAGuy2 says:


    Just as an FYI, gas taxes don’t BEGIN to cover the true cost of gas – add in $200BN or more per year for the military force dedicated to securing our access to oil, and then you start getting a better picture of the cost.

  69. stubar says:

    @RagingBoehner: There are already some Smartrip Express Lanes – I know there are a few out in Fairfax, and in some of the closer in VA stations. Also, there’s a proposal on the table to combine driver’s licenses and Smartrips into one card, and while I’m sure some will balk at the idea of putting RFID chips into MORE government-issued IDs, I myself think it’s pretty cool.

  70. Leah says:

    @snazz: I still see incentive to buy the monthly. If you take just a few rides on the weekend (or really anything in addition to commuting), it again becomes cheaper to have the monthly.

    Personally, I love the unlimited ride cards. Not having to worry about exactly how many rides I’m taking is completely worth it.