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.