MTA proposes strapping straphangers with $1 'green fee' on each new MetroCard
A new MetroCard could soon cost a buck more — and that’s before you even put any money on it.
Under an MTA proposal, straphangers would be forced to pay a $1 “green fee” on each new MetroCard they buy.
The Earth-friendly, wallet-hostile proposal appears in the MTA’s preliminary budget for next year.
The goal is to reduce the amount of MetroCards that are printed, discarded and hauled to the landfill, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.
But the surcharge also will reap the MTA plenty of dough — an estimated $20 million a year, according to the budget. Straphangers were not pleased.
“It seems they’re trying to find anyway they can to get more money out of us,” said Quiana Neal, 25, of Brooklyn after buying a MetroCard at the Whitehall St. station in lower Manhattan.
Kathy Green, 51, of Queens, agreed.
“It’s called ‘nickel and diming,’" Green said.
Tourists unfamiliar with the rule would get hit the hardest, Green predicted. Regular straphangers will be “forced” to recycle their MetroCards, she said.
“If you’re hitting people in the pocket, you’re going to make them do something,” Green, a training and technology consultant, said.
The MTA on average prints and encodes 160 million MetroCards a year at a cost of approximately $9.5 million, agency spokesman Adam Lisberg said.
The surcharge will generate an estimated $18 million in revenue while printing fewer MetroCards will save another $2 million or so, according to the MTA.
“We want people to use fewer MetroCards,” Lisberg said. “It’s good for the environment and will reduce litter in our stations. Everyone has had the experience of walking into a station and seeing MetroCards littering the ground. If it costs $1 to replace your card, you won’t see that anymore.”
The Straphangers Campaign is on board with the plan.
"We think the $1 charge for new MetroCards will encourage riders to reuse their cards,” said campaign spokesman Gene Russianoff.
The MTA board approved the MetroCard surcharge during the 2010 budget crisis when the authority also slashed service. It was not implemented last year — and its fate is uncertain this year, too.
Straphangers can avoid the surcharge. A newly purchased MetroCard usually doesn’t expire for about 12 months. And until that expiration date, a MetroCard — including unlimited-ride weekly and monthly MetroCards — can be repeatedly refilled.
And the surcharge would not be imposed when a rider with an expired MetroCard is buying a new MetroCard, Lisberg said.