The MTA, as usual, needs money. And what better way to make some change than to take it away one of the few perks left to riders? What do silly straphangers need with a seven percent pay-per-ride MetroCard discount anyway? Poor people!
Yesterday MTA chairman Joseph Lhota told reporters that the MTA is considering eliminating or reducing the longstanding deal that gives riders a seven percent bump when they buy a MetroCard (a deal which dates back to the bonus tokens you'd get when you'd buy 'em by the bagful). "Do we really need to give that level of a discount?" Lhota asked. "We need to look at those discounts and have a public debate."
Luckily critics are already trying to pull the emergency breaks on the idea. The Straphangers Campaign calls the idea "no different than a fare hike." Explains the group's senior attorney, Gene Russianoff: "I don’t think it’s a throwback or vestigial, I think it arguably was an attempt to help out the little guy. That’s what the whole debate was about 15 years ago."
Honestly though, we'd bet this won't happen. Though the MTA arguably loses a bit on the deal, it also gets serious good will from it (because of the discount the MTA says the average price of a regular ride is actually $2.10, not $2.25—$1.63 when you toss in unlimited cards!). What this really looks like is an attempt by the MTA to make the fare-hikes it is expected to propose in October (and then vote on in December) look a little more palatable to everybody. So, get outraged so you can be happy when the discount stays! OUTRAGE! In the meantime, we're still waiting for our ad-covered MetroCards...