Have you ever swiped your MetroCard at the turnstile only to get turned down by the frustrating “Insufficient Fare” or “Please Swipe Again” warning? You probably have, since it seems that the MTA has designed its machines to be this way.
It costs $2.50 to ride the Subway, but many will find that when trying to swipe a card they know they had cash on, they only have $2.45 on their card and are forced to add more money, or, if from out of town, likely leave with unused balances. And that means the MTA benefits.
So how does the MTA trick you into not having enough money earlier than you would’ve liked? If your purchase is large enough, the MTA will offer a 5 percent bonus of 45 cents, thus, your card will have $9.45 and leave you with $1.95 after three rides. The MTA is the only one who benefits from that said bonus; they get the money from whoever chooses that deal and also benefits from the interest until you do it all over again.
If you don’t accept the first option, the other ones include $19 with a 95-cent bonus or a $39 ticket with a $1.95 bonus. The first leaves you with $2.45 after 7 uses, and the latter will have you at 95 cents after 16 uses. That means each one will present you with that frustrating “Insufficient Fare” caution.
The website Gizmodo.com crunched the numbers found a solution to this dilemma, however! When purchasing money for your MetroCard, simply select the “Other Amounts” option to choose your own quantity. The best amounts to enter are: $9.55, &19.05 and $38.10. When you type any of those numbers and apply the 5 percent bonus, you will no longer accrue any excess balances.
In response to this issue, an MTA spokesperson said in a statement: “These machines do not hold an infinite amount of change and the denominations are suggested to ensure there is ample change to accommodate customers who pay with cash. That being said, we will certainly look at this as part of the process involved in rolling out the next scheduled fare increase slated for next year.”