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MetroCard (New York City)

Location New York City
Launched 1993
Operator Cubic
Manager MTA
Currency USD ($100 maximum load)
Stored-value Pay-Per-Ride
Auto recharge EasyPayXPress
Unlimited use Unlimited Ride
  • Vending machines
    MetroCard buses and vans
    Authorized merchants
  • SingleRide

The MetroCard is the payment method for the New York City Subway rapid transit system; New York City Transit buses, including routes operated by Atlantic Express under contract to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA); MTA Bus, and Nassau Inter-County Express systems; the PATH subway system; the Roosevelt Island Tramway; AirTrain JFK; and Westchester County's Bee-Line Bus System. It is a thin, plastic card on which the customer electronically loads fares. It was introduced to enhance the technology of the transit system and eliminate the burden of carrying and collecting tokens. The MTA discontinued the use of tokens in the subway on May 3, 2003, and on buses on December 31, 2003. The MetroCard is managed by a division of the MTA known as Revenue Control, MetroCard Sales and manufactured by Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc.[1]


  • History 1
  • Technology 2
  • Card types 3
    • SingleRide Ticket 3.1
    • Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard 3.2
    • EasyPayXPress MetroCard 3.3
    • JFK Airport AirTrain Discount MetroCard 3.4
    • Unlimited MetroCard 3.5
    • Student MetroCard 3.6
    • Disabled/Senior Citizen Reduced-Fare MetroCard 3.7
  • Fare types 4
    • Fares 4.1
      • Base fares 4.1.1
      • Unlimited MetroCard fares 4.1.2
    • Transfers 4.2
      • MetroCard Bus Transfer 4.2.1
      • Transfer restrictions 4.2.2
        • Subway
        • Bus
        • Subway-to-bus
  • Purchase options 5
    • Subway station booths 5.1
    • MetroCard vending machines 5.2
    • MetroCard bus and van 5.3
    • Neighborhood MetroCard merchants 5.4
    • Railroad Ticket Vending Machines 5.5
  • Future 6
  • Unauthorized resale and scams 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


  • June 1, 1993 – MTA distributes 3,000 MetroCards in the first major test of the technology for the entire subway system and the entire bus system.[2]
  • January 6, 1994 – MetroCard compatible turnstiles opened at Wall Street on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line (4 5 trains trains) and Whitehall Street – South Ferry on the BMT Broadway Line (N R trains).
  • Before 1997, the MetroCard design was blue with yellow lettering. These blue cards are now collector's items [3]
  • May 15, 1997 – The last MetroCard turnstiles were installed by this date, and the entire bus and subway system accepted MetroCards.
  • July 4, 1997 – First free transfers available between bus and subway at any location with MetroCard. This program was originally billed as "MetroCard Gold". Card colors changed to the current blue lettering on goldenrod background.
  • January 1, 1998 – Bonus free rides (10% of the purchase amount) were given for purchases of $15 or more.
  • July 4, 1998 – 7-Day and 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCards were introduced, at $17 and $63 respectively. A 30-day "Express Bus Plus" MetroCard, allowing unlimited rides on express buses in addition to local buses and the subway, was also introduced at $120.[4]
  • January 1, 1999 – The 1-Day Fun Pass was introduced, at a cost of $4.
  • January 25, 1999 – The first MetroCard Vending Machines were installed.[5]
  • April 13, 2003 – Tokens were no longer sold.[6]
  • May 4, 2003 – Tokens were no longer accepted, except on buses. Since the fares were increased from $1.50 to $2.00, bonus free ride amount was increased to 20% of the purchase amount for purchases of $10 or more; tokens were no longer accepted (except for a six-month transition period on buses where they were accepted for $1.50 credit towards the $2 ride). The 1-day unlimited-ride fare increased from $4 to $7, the 7-day unlimited-ride fare increased from $17 to $21, and the 30-Day MetroCard increased from $63 to $70. The 30-day Express Bus Plus was replaced with a 7-day Express Bus Plus card at $33.[7][8][8][8][9]
  • February 27, 2005 – The 7-day unlimited-ride fare increased from $21 to $24, the 7-day "Express Bus Plus" unlimited-ride fare increased from $33 to $41, and the 30-Day MetroCard increased from $70 to $76.[10][11][12]
  • March 2, 2008 – The 1-day unlimited-ride fare increased from $7 to $7.50, the 7-day unlimited-ride fare increased from $24 to $25, a new 14-day unlimited-ride was introduced that cost $47, and the 30-Day MetroCard increased from $76 to $81. Bonus free ride amount reduced to 15% for purchases of $7 or more.[13][13]
  • June 28, 2009 – Fares were increased from $2 to $2.25. Bonus goes to 15% for every $8. Unlimited cards rise to $8.25 (1 day), $27 (7 day), $45 (7 day express bus), $51.50 (14 day) and $89 (30 day).
  • December 30, 2010 – The bonus value for Pay-Per-Ride decreased to 7% for every $10. The 1-Day Fun Pass and the 14-Day Unlimited Ride have been discontinued. The 7-Day Unlimited Ride increased to $29, the 7-Day Express Bus Plus increased to $50, and the 30-Day Unlimited Ride increased to $104.[14]
  • October 2012 – As a result of Hurricane Sandy, between October 2012 and May 2013, three free transfers were offered on the MetroCard:
    • Free transfers between the Q22, the Q35, and the  2   5  trains at the Flatbush Avenue – Brooklyn College station.[15]
    • Free transfers between the Q22, either the Q52 Limited or the Q53 Limited, and the  A  trains at the Rockaway Boulevard station.[15]
    • A three-hour transfer window applied from transfers from any subway station to the Q22 and Q113 routes of MTA Bus, and then to the N31, N32, and N33 routes of NICE.[15]
  • December 19, 2012 - The MTA voted for the following fare increases:
    • Base fare from $2.25 to $2.50.[16]
    • 30-Day Unlimited MetroCard fare increases from $104 to $112.[16]
    • 7-Day Unlimited MetroCard fare increases from $29 to $30.[16]
    • Bonus for pay-per-ride MetroCard decreases from 7% to 5% but the cutoff for the bonus decreases from $10 to $5.[16]
    • Single Ride ticket increases from $2.25 to $2.50.[16]
  • February 20, 2013 – Cards can now be refilled with both time and value, so that when a MetroCard is filled with both an unlimited card and fare value, the unlimited ride portion is used first where applicable. If not started already, the unlimited ride period will begin when the card is next used. When the unlimited period expires, the regular fare will be charged.
  • March 3, 2013 – A $1 fee is imposed on new card purchases in-system.
  • March 22, 2015 - The MTA voted for the following fare increases:
    • Base Fare – $2.75 Subway and Local Bus (Reduced-Fare $1.35);
    • Pay-Per-Ride Bonus - An additional 11% is added to your MetroCard with the purchase or addition of $5.50 or more.
    • Express Bus – $6.50 (Reduced-Fare $3.00 off-peak only.);
    • 7-Day Unlimited – $31;
    • 7-Day Express Bus Plus – $57.25;
    • 30-Day Unlimited – $116.50;
    • Single Ride ticket – $3.00 (No Reduced-Fare) Sold at vending machines only. Must be used within 2 hours; no transfers included.


An obsolete New York City Subway token.

During a swipe, the MetroCard is read, re-written to, then check-read to verify correct encoding.[17]

Select Bus Service pay shelter for pre-payment of fare before boarding Select Bus Service buses.

Each MetroCard stored value card is assigned a unique, permanent ten-digit serial number when it is manufactured. The value is stored magnetically on the card itself, while the card's transaction history is held centrally in the Automated Fare Collection (AFC) Database. When a card is purchased and fares are loaded onto it, the MetroCard Vending Machine or station agent's computer stores the amount of the purchase onto the card and updates the database, identifying the card by its serial number. Whenever the card is swiped at a turnstile, the value of the card is read, the new value is written, the customer is let through, and then the central database is updated with the new transaction as soon as possible. Cards are not validated in real time against the database when swiped to pay the fare. The AFC Database is necessary to maintain transaction records to track a card if needed. It has actually been used to acquit criminal suspects[18] by placing them away from the scene of a crime. The database also stores a list of MetroCards that have been invalidated for various reasons (such as lost or stolen student or unlimited monthly cards), and it distributes the list to turnstiles in order to deny access to a revoked card.

The older blue MetroCards were not capable of the many kinds of fare options that the gold ones currently offer. The format of the magnetic stripe used by the blue MetroCard offered very little other than the standard pay-per-swipe fare. Also, gold MetroCards allow groups of people (up to four) to ride together using a single pay-per-swipe MetroCard. The gold MetroCard keeps track of the number of swipes at a location in order to allow those same number of people to transfer at a subsequent location, if applicable. The MetroCard system was designed to ensure backward compatibility, which allowed a smooth transition from the blue format to gold.[19]

Cubic later used the proprietary MetroCard platform to create the Chicago Card, which is physically identical to the MetroCard except for the labeling.

Card types

SingleRide Ticket

The SingleRide Ticket (introduced to replace subway tokens and single cash fares) is a piece of paper with a magnetic strip on the front, and with the date and time of purchase stamped on the back.

  • $3.00 for one subway or local bus ride, with one free bus/bus transfer (issued by Bus Operator upon request). No subway/bus or bus/subway transfers are provided on this card. NOTE: No transfers from Select Bus Service to any other buses with Single Ride Tickets.[20]
  • SingleRide tickets expire two hours from time of purchase[20]
  • SingleRide tickets can only be purchased at MetroCard Vending Machines.[20]

SingleRide Tickets are not frequently used, having been used by only 3% of subway riders in 2009.[21]

Although the Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard is accepted on PATH, the regular SingleRide ticket is not. However, a PATH SingleRide ticket is available from MVMs in PATH stations for $2.75, valid for 2 hours and only on PATH.[22]

Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard

  • $5.50–80 initial value in any increment (though vending machines only sell values in multiples of 5 cents).
  • Card purchases or refills equal to or greater than $5.50 receive a 11% bonus (ex. $49.55 buys 20 rides).
  • $2.75 deducted for each subway, Staten Island Railway, or local bus use, excluding valid transfers.
  • $6.50 deducted for express bus use (NYCT bus or MTA Bus).
  • $7.50 deducted for BXM4C Bee-Line Bus (Transfers only allowed form the BXM4C).
  • $2.75 deducted per use on PATH (no transfer privileges).
  • $5 deducted per use on AirTrain JFK.
  • Up to 4 people can ride together on a single Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard.
  • Transfers available within two hours of initial entry:
    • One free transfer from
      • subway to local bus
      • bus to subway
      • bus to local bus
      • express bus to express bus
      • bus or subway to Staten Island Railway
      • subway to subway between the 59th Street ( 4   5   6   <6>  trains) or Lexington Avenue – 59th Street ( N   Q   R  trains) stations and the Lexington Avenue – 63rd Street ( F  trains) station
    • Two consecutive free transfers are available with the MetroCard for the following transfers. The transfers must be made in order or in reverse order, and must be made within two hours of each other (e.g. when one makes the first transfer, he or she has two hours to make the second transfer).
      • Between [23]
      • Between the B61, the B62, and any bus route connecting with either the B61 or the B62 (not necessarily in this order):[24]
        • Between the B61, the B62, and any bus route connecting with the B62.[24]
        • Between any bus route connecting with the B61, the B61, and the B62.[24]
      • Between the B70, the S53, and any bus route connecting with the S53.[25]
      • Between the Q29, the Q33, and the Q72 to LaGuardia Airport only (transfers between the Q29, the Q33, and the Rego Park-bound Q72 require a second fare).[26]
    • $3.50 for each local bus or subway to express bus transfer.
    • Transfers with coins (pennies and half-dollar coins not accepted) are good for use on one connecting local bus route (restrictions apply).[27]
    • Customers transferring to suburban buses from another system with a lower base fare must pay the difference between the fare on the first bus and the fare on the second bus.
    • No transfers to the BxM4C.[28]
    • No free transfer between PATH and NYC Subway, Bus and MTA Bus.[22]
  • Cards can be refilled
    • in 1 cent increments at token booths.
    • in 5 cent increments at vending machines.
    • up to $80 in one transaction and up to a total value of $100.
    • with unlimited ride time in 7 or 30 day increments.
  • Card balance may be transferred to a new card
    • at any token booth, up to one year after expiration. Card balances from multiple cards may also be combined at token booths.[29]
    • at any MVM
    • by mailing the Metrocard to the MTA up to two years after expiration.[30]

Accepted on:

However, PATH does not accept reduced fare MetroCard.[22]

EasyPayXPress MetroCard

  • Works just like a pay per ride or unlimited MetroCard, but is automatically refilled from a linked credit or debit card .
  • An EasyPayXpress account is opened with $30 or 30 days ($112). For pay per ride customers, another $30 is automatically added when balance drops below $20. As of Jan 2015, the automatic replenishment amount has been increased to $45 (plus a $2.25 bonus). To reduce this, a one-time payment may be made online before the balance drops below $20.
  • All rules for standard pay per ride or unlimited cards apply.
  • EasyPay customers can review the account and ride usage on-line.
  • Reduced-fare EasyPay version converts from Pay-Per-Ride to Unlimited rides (during that billing cycle) once the value of fares used meet or exceed the cost of a reduced-fare 30-Day Unlimited Ride card. Express bus fares do not contribute.
  • Cannot be used on PATH trains.[31]

JFK Airport AirTrain Discount MetroCard

  • 10 trips on AirTrain JFK at $25. This card can only be purchased at specially marked MetroCard Vending Machines. It can be refilled, and once done so, becomes a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard.[32] However, although the AirTrain fare is also payable using a regular Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard, no discount is given for Pay-Per-Ride cards.[32]
  • Unlimited-ride 30-day card for $40. This card is only valid on AirTrain JFK.[32]

Unlimited MetroCard

  • 7-Day Unlimited Ride Card, $31[20] for unlimited subway and local bus rides until midnight on the seventh day following first usage.
  • 30-Day Unlimited Ride Card, $116.50 [20] for unlimited subway and local bus rides until midnight on the thirtieth day following first usage.
  • 7-Day Express Bus Plus Card, $57.25 [20] for unlimited express bus, local bus, and subway rides until midnight on the seventh day following first usage.
    • 30-Day Unlimited and 7-Day Express Bus Plus Cards that are purchased using a credit, debit or ATM card from a MetroCard vending machine can be reported lost or stolen to receive a pro-rated credit for the card.[33]
  • 30-Day AirTrain JFK Unlimited Ride Card, $40 for unlimited trips on the AirTrain (operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey) until midnight on the thirtieth day from first usage. This card can only be purchased at specially marked MetroCard Vending Machines at the Howard Beach – JFK Airport ( A  trains) or Sutphin Boulevard – Archer Avenue – JFK Airport ( E   J   Z  trains) stations and at MetroCard vendors in JFK Airport. There are no transfer privileges with this card as it only works on the AirTrain. This is the only unlimited card accepted on the AirTrain.
  • Any Unlimited Ride Card cannot be used at the same subway station or bus route for 18 minutes after it is first used.
  • Unlimited Ride MetroCard can be refilled in increments of 7 or 30 days or with pay-per-ride time, but time is used before value unless the time on the card cannot be applied to the ride taken.
  • The 7 Day Express Bus Plus card is the only unlimited card that can be used on express buses.
  • Unlimited Ride MetroCards are not valid on the Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH).

Accepted at:

  • New York City Subway
  • New York City Bus
  • MTA Bus
  • Staten Island Railway
  • Nassau Inter-County Express
  • Westchester County Bee-Line Bus
  • Roosevelt Island Tramway
  • X23/X24 Atlantic Express service (7-Day Express Bus Plus only)
  • AirTrain JFK (AirTrain JFK Unlimited card only)

Student MetroCard

  • In New York City, issued to some New York City public and private school students allowing discounted access to the NYCT buses and trains, depending on the distance traveled between their school and their home. The card program is managed by the NYCDOE Office of Pupil Transportation.[34]
  • In Nassau County, Student MetroCards are issued by individual schools which have pre-paid for the cards.
  • Four types of cards:
    • Orange Full fare K-6 (New York City)[34]
    • Green: Full fare 7-12, half-fare K-12 (New York City)[34]

Students who receive a student MetroCard must live:

  • Up to 0.5 miles away for a half-fare card if they are in grades K-2[34]
  • More than 0.5 miles away for a full-fare card if they are in grades K-2, or for a half-fare card if they are in grades 3-6[34]
  • More than 1.0 miles away for a full-fare card if they are in grades 3-6, or for a half-fare card if they are in grades 7-12[34]
  • More than 1.5 miles away for a full-fare card if they are in grades 7-12[34]

Accepted at:

  • New York City Subway and Bus (orange cards are only accepted on buses)[34]
  • Staten Island Railway (green cards only)[34]
  • Nassau Inter-County Express (blue and purple cards only)[34]

Disabled/Senior Citizen Reduced-Fare MetroCard

Senior Reduced-Fare MetroCard (Male & Female) (Back)
Disability Reduced-Fare MetroCard (Male & Female) (Back)

Senior citizen MetroCards are received via application[35] and act as a combination photo ID and MetroCard.

  • Allows half-fare within the MTA system. (Express Bus during off-peak hours only)
  • Half fare is also available on the 7-day and 30-day Unlimited MetroCards.
  • Card back is color-coded to match gender of card holder.
  • Card face is marked as "Photo ID Pass"
  • Temporary replacement cards are purple with no photo (Autogate version is blue). (Value cannot be refunded if stolen or lost)
  • "Autogate" cards issued to persons with mobility impairments are accepted at wheelchair doors at selected stations.
  • Senior & Disabled Reduced-fare EasyPay (automatic refill) card also available (details above).

This type of card is accepted at everywhere the Pay-Per-Ride or time-based MetroCard is valid at, with two exceptions: it is not valid on the PATH, and it is not valid for ticket purchase on New York City-bound LIRR and Metro-North trains in the morning.

Reduced-Fare MetroCards (in any variety) are not accepted at PATH stations. Reduced fare customers who do not have a MetroCard may purchase a full-fare round trip MetroCard from a subway station agent by presenting proof of eligibility.

This type of card caused complaints because it took up to three months to replace.[36]

Fare types


All fare payments must be made using MetroCard or coins (excluding half-dollars; dollar bills and half-dollar coins are not accepted for fare payment on any buses that accept MetroCard, nor in fare payment stations for Select Bus Service buses).[37]

Base fares

All fares are in US dollars.

MTA Bus/NYC Bus: Local, Limited-Stop, Select Bus Service,
Bee-Line (except BxM4C bus), NICE, PATH
NYC Subway, SIR, Roosevelt Island Tramway
Express buses
(MTA and
Academy bus X23/X24)
BxM4C bus[28] Student MetroCard[38] AirTrain JFK[39] Access-A-Ride
(NYC paratransit)
(Nassau County
Full Reduced Full Reduced
Full Reduced
Full Half-
  • $3.00 for a Single-Ride MetroCard ticket[41]
$1.25[41] $6.50 [41] $3 [41] $7.50 $3.75 Free $1.25 $2.10 $5 $2.50 $3.75
($75 for a book of 20 tickets)
  • Customers transferring to suburban buses from another system with a lower base fare must pay the difference between the fare on the first bus and the fare on the second bus.
  • PATH does not accept reduced fare MetroCard.[22]
  • Peak travel periods for express buses are 06:00–10:00 A.M. and 3:00–7:00 P.M. weekdays except holidays.[42]
  • Staten Island Railway fares are only collected at St. George and Tompkinsville stations (in both directions).[23]
  • Student MetroCards (issued by the New York City Office of Pupil Transportation) are valid only for travel on NYC Bus, MTA Bus and NYC Subway within the City of New York in hours between 5:30 am until 8:30pm on school days.
    • Full fare Student MetroCard can travel free for three or four trips.
    • Half-fare Student MetroCard have to pay half of full fare price, travel only on local, limited-stop and Select Bus Service bus routes only.
    • Subject to additional terms, conditions and restrictions on use.[38]
  • MetroCard transfers are good for one connecting trip on any other NYC Bus/MTA Bus: local, limited-stops, Select Bus Service or express bus services; NYC Subway, Bee-Line, NICE or Roosevelt Island Tramway (restrictions apply), provided that such transfers are made within a two-hour time slot.[27][43][44] There are, however, several double transfers that are accepted. See below for accepted double transfers.

Unlimited MetroCard fares

All fares are in US dollars. There is a $1 purchase fee for all new MetroCard purchases within the subway system or at railroad stations (except for expiring or damaged MetroCards or MetroCards bought as part of a UniTicket).[45]

7-Day Unlimited[46] 30-Day Unlimited[47] 7-Day Express Bus Plus[48] 10-Trip AirTrain JFK[39][49] 30-Day AirTrain JFK[39][49]
Full fare
Reduced fare
  • The 7 Day Express Bus Plus MetroCard is the only Unlimited-Ride MetroCard accepted on Atlantic Express routes X23/X24 and MTA express buses.
  • The 30-Day AirTrain JFK MetroCard is the only Unlimited-Ride MetroCard accepted on AirTrain JFK. This MetroCard is not valid on any other services.
  • No Unlimited MetroCards are accepted on the BxM4C and PATH trains.[28][22]


All transfers with MetroCard are free from bus to subway, local bus to local bus, and subway to local bus. For transfers to express buses from local buses (except for the BxM4C), an additional US$3.50 is deducted from a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard.[50] With coins, transfers are available to different local buses only, with some restrictions. All transfers are good for two hours. Transfers are available upon request when boarding only.[27][43][44]

There are no transfers to the BxM4C.[28] There are also no free transfers between the PATH and the New York City Subway, New York City Bus, or MTA Bus.[22]

SingleRide tickets are valid for one ride within two hours after purchase on local buses and the subway. One bus to bus transfer is allowed, no subway-bus or bus-subway transfer is allowed.

On the Select Bus Service routes except S79: customers paying with coins requiring a transfer must board via the front door and request a transfer from the operator. All other customers may board via any of the three doors on Select Bus Service buses only.[51]

Bee-Line customers needing to transfer to Connecticut Transit (I-Bus and route 11),[52] Transport of Rockland (Tappan ZEExpress),[53] Putnam Transit (PART 2),[54] or Housatonic Area Regional Transit (Ridgefield-Katonah Shuttle)[55] services must ask for a transfer, even if paying with MetroCard. The BxM4C does not accept paper or MetroCard transfers, but it does issue transfers to/from other buses and the subway.[28]

NICE customers needing to transfer to City of Long Beach N69, Suffolk County Transit, or Huntington Area Rapid Transit[56] services must ask for a transfer, even if paying with MetroCard.

MetroCard Bus Transfer

The MetroCard Bus Transfer is issued upon request to passengers who pay cash fares on buses accepting MetroCard. The transfer is inserted into the fare box on the second bus, which retains it. Westchester Bee Line bus system and Nassau Inter-County Express and MTA New York City Transit bus is free to transfer from one bus to another bus that is accepted with MetroCard. The bus transfer is paper like the SingleRide Metrocard. This transfer does not grant cash customers subway access.

For suburban transfers, if the fare paid to get the transfer is less than that required on the second bus, the difference must be paid on boarding. For transfers from NICE to New York City Transit, no step up fee is required.

The predecessor to the MetroCard bus transfer was the original bus transfer. These paper tickets allowed bus to bus transfers. Available in pads of several different colors for use at different times, boroughs or directions, they would be torn at a certain time-marked line to indicate when the transfer would expire. A version of this still exists today as the "General Order Transfer" (aka "block ticket") which is provided to customers as they leave the subway system during service disruptions to re-enter the system at another point (often via a shuttle bus).

Transfer restrictions

There are restrictions on transfers, as noted below:


There are no out-of-system subway-to-subway transfers allowed (i.e. exiting the turnstile and entering again; see also Shanghai Metro variant), with the exception of a transfer between Lexington Avenue / 59th Street on the IRT Lexington Avenue and BMT Broadway Lines and Lexington Avenue / 63rd Street on the IND 63rd Street Line.[57] Until 2011, an extra out-of-system subway-to-subway transfer was allowed between 23rd Street – Ely Avenue/Long Island City – Court Square on the IND Queens Boulevard and Crosstown Lines and 45th Road – Court House Square on the IRT Flushing Line. This transfer was rendered obsolete when an enclosed in-system transfer passageway was opened between the three stations in 2011.

Additional exceptions may be added on a case by case basis, usually due to construction making a regular transfer unavailable.


For Pay-per-Ride customers, there is no free transfer back onto the same route on which the fare was initially paid, or between the following buses:[58]

  • Manhattan:
    • M1, M2, M3, M4: No transfer between uptown Madison Avenue and downtown 5 Avenue buses.
    • M31 and M57: No transfer between eastbound and westbound buses along 57 Street. Transfers are available between buses travelling in the same direction, however.
    • M96 and M106: No transfer between eastbound and westbound buses along 96 Street, even between buses travelling in the same direction.
    • M101, M102, M103: No transfer between uptown 3rd Avenue and downtown Lexington Avenue buses.
  • The Bronx:
    • Bx1 and Bx2: No transfer between southbound and northbound buses on the Grand Concourse.
    • Bx40 and Bx42: No transfer between eastbound and westbound buses along Tremont Avenue.
  • Nassau:
    • No transfers between bus routes that are not listed on the timetable of the route on which fare was paid. In essence, one cannot transfer between bus routes that do not intersect.[43]
  • Express:
    • No transfers from any route to the BxM4C, even with a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard. Transfers are valid, however, from the BxM4C.[28]

There are no subway-to-bus or bus-to-subway transfers without a MetroCard allowed, with one exception:

Purchase options

All new MetroCard purchases are charged a $1 fee, except reduced fare customers and those exchanging damaged / expired cards.

Subway station booths

Booths are located in all subway stations and are staffed by station agents. Every type of MetroCard can be purchased at a booth with the exception of the SingleRide ticket (purchased at the MetroCard Vending Machine), and MetroCards specific to other transit systems (PATH, AirTrain JFK). All transactions must be in cash.[59]

MetroCard vending machines

MetroCard Vending Machine

MetroCard Vending Machines (MVMs) are machines located in all subway stations, the Staten Island Ferry terminals, the Roosevelt Island Tramway station, the Hempstead Transit Center, Eltingville Transit Center, just inside the Central Terminal at LaGuardia Airport, at the Howard Beach and Jamaica AirTrain terminals near John F. Kennedy International Airport, and the NYC Visitors Center on 7 Avenue & 53 Street. They debuted on January 25, 1999 and are now found in two models. Standard MVMs are large vending machines that accept cash, credit cards, and debit cards and are in every subway station. Cash transactions are required for purchases of less than $1, and they can return up to $8 in coin change. There are also smaller versions of these machines that only accept credit and ATM/debit cards. Both machines allow a customer to purchase any type of MetroCard through a touch screen. MVMs can also reload previously-issued MetroCards. PATH fare vending machines can also dispense MetroCards.

The machines are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 through use of braille and a headset jack. Audible commands for each menu item are provided once a headset is connected and the proper sequence is keyed through the keypad. All non-visual commands are then entered via the keypad instead of the touch screen.

MetroCard bus and van

MetroCard bus
A MetroCard sales van

A number of MetroCard sales vans and a MetroCard bus (a retired bus converted for sales duty) routinely travel to specific locations in New York City and Westchester County, stopping for a day (or half a day) at the announced locations. MetroCards can be purchased or refilled directly from these vehicles. Reduced-fare MetroCard applications can also be processed on the bus, including taking photographs for these cards.

The MetroCard van serves all five boroughs and Westchester County, while the MetroCard bus serves Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, and parts of Brooklyn.[60]

Neighborhood MetroCard merchants

Vendors can apply to sell MTA fare media at their business. Only presealed, prevalued cards are available, and no fee is charged. A comprehensive listing can be found on the MTA website.[61]

Railroad Ticket Vending Machines

Railroad ticket vending machines (TVM) for the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad offer the option to purchase combined tickets/passes and MetroCards. A $5.00 MetroCard is available with a round-trip ticket, $30 MetroCard with a weekly pass and $40 MetroCard with monthly pass. In addition, the machines sell separate $20 MetroCards. TVMs at Jamaica Station and Penn Station sell AirTrain monthly passes on the back of LIRR tickets. All cards sold from these machines are on thick paper stock, not the normal plastic.

Beginning in 2007 with the start of service on the S89 bus, a combined HBLR monthly pass and monthly MetroCard is available at NJT Ticket Vending Machines at HBLR stations.


In 2006 the MTA and Port Authority announced plans to replace the magnetic strip with smart cards.

On July 1, 2006, MTA launched a six-month pilot program to test the new "contact-less" smart card fare collection system, initially ending on December 31, 2006 but extended until May 31, 2007.[62] This program was tested at all stations on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line and at four stations in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. The testing system utilized Citibank Mastercard's Paypass keytags.[63] This smart card system is intended to ease congestion near the fare control area by reducing time spent at paying for fare. MTA and other transportation authorities in the region say they will eventually implement system-wide.[64][65]

Beginning October 7, 2012, MetroCard vending machines scattered throughout Manhattan dispensed something other than the classic blue and gold MetroCard. The MTA has begun to sell advertisement space on the front and back of the card to raise additional revenue. The ad appearing on the cards was purchased by The Gap and reads: "Be Bright NYC" with multicolored letters on a navy blue background. It encourages New Yorkers to visit Gap's newly remodeled flagship store at 34th Street and Broadway starting October 10, 2012. Customers who present the MetroCard at any Gap store were entitled to a 20% discount on merchandise purchases through November 18, 2012.[66] The MTA had been running advertisements on the back of MetroCards since its inception, earning advertiser fees along with expired card value (accruing when purchased fares wind up not being used on a card deemed a collectible by fans). Deals were arranged as early as 1997.[67] However, this is the first time the front of the cards have changed in over 10 years. Approximately 10% of the MetroCards sold throughout the system in a typical month will carry the Gap ad. Future MetroCard advertising campaigns will include the word "MetroCard" on the back of the card, flush right in the white space above the zone available for advertising.[66] Recently, the MetroCards have displayed Grand Central Terminal advertising the 100 year anniversary of the famous clock, encouraging tourists and New Yorkers to visit said clock. The back of the MetroCard states: "Meet Me at the Clock. The clock on top of the Information Booth in the middle of Grand Central Terminal is one of the most recognizable icons in New York City and has been a famous rendezvous spot for 100 years."

Unauthorized resale and scams

The MetroCard system is susceptible to various types of unauthorized resale. At times, this may involve individuals charging to swipe another commuter into the subway system. Usually these frauds involve the person preventing or dissuading the commuter from using his or her own MetroCard, and then charging the commuter for entry to the system (entry is gained by a method that costs the individual nothing). The individual can use an array of unlimited cards, selling rides for a discounted price. Multiple cards are needed because of the 18-minute delay between each swipe at the same station. Using unlimited cards, one is able to sell rides for a discounted price. In addition, MetroCard Vending Machines are programmed to disable the bill or coin acceptor after a series of rejected bills or coins, which can result in a row of MVMs all saying "No Bills" or "No Coins".[68]

A report from New York State Senator Martin J. Golden claims these behaviors cost the MTA $260,000 a year.[69]

All aspects of this scam have been recently prohibited by MTA policy and a New York State law.[70] It is now a crime to:

  • deface a MetroCard
  • sell a swipe (although selling the cards themselves is allowed)
  • enter the system without properly paying a fare (a fare evasion).

The introduction of MetroCards did eliminate one class of unauthorized resale. When the NYC subway still used tokens, token suckers would steal tokens by jamming turnstile coin slots, waiting for other passengers to deposit tokens (only to discover that the turnstile did not work), then returning to suck out the token. Token-sucking ended with the retirement of tokens in 2003.

The MetroCard does have a magnetic stripe, but both the track offsets and the encoding differ from standard Magstripe cards. It is a proprietary format developed by the contractor Cubic. Off-the-shelf reader/writers for the standard cards are useless, and even hypothetically could work only with both physical and software modification. Some have had partial success decoding it using audio tape recorder heads, laptop sound cards, and custom Linux software.[71]


  1. ^ "Cubic Transportation Systems". 
  2. ^ Faison, Seth (June 2, 1993). "3,000 Subway Riders, Cards in Hand, Test New Fare System". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  3. ^ Mallozzi, Vincent M. (August 30, 2008). "On MetroCards’ Flip Side, Art Exhibits That Catch Collectors’ Eyes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  4. ^ Newman, Andy (July 3, 1998). "Hop On, Hop Off: The Unlimited Metrocard Arrives". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  5. ^ Williams, Monte (January 26, 1999). "Metrocard Machines' Subway Debut". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  6. ^ Markowitz, Michael (April 28, 2003). "NYC Subway Token, 1953-2003". Gotham Gazette (New York). Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  7. ^ Smith, Jesse J. (January 19, 2003). "Commuters could face 33% fare hike". The Daily Freeman (Kingston). 
  8. ^ a b c Kennedy, Randy (March 6, 2003). "The Transit Increases: Overview; Transit Authority Seeks an Increase in Fares and Tolls". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  9. ^ Smith, Jesse J. (January 19, 2003). "Commuters could face 33% fare hike". The Daily Freeman (Kingston). 
  10. ^ "MTA Hikes Some MetroCard Fares". Columbia Daily Spectator. January 18, 2005. 
  11. ^  
  12. ^ "New Fare Information - Effective February 27, 2005". New York City Transit. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  13. ^ a b "Fares & MetroCard". New York City Transit. Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  14. ^ Glickel, Jennifer; Mandell, Nina (October 7, 2010). "MTA Votes Yes on Fare Hikes". New York. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c "Rebuilding the Rockaways After Hurricane Sandy: Current Service",
  16. ^ a b c d e FLEGENHEIMER, MATT (December 19, 2013). "Increase in Base Subway Fare and 30-Day Pass Is Approved". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-01-16. 
  17. ^ Riazi, Atefeh. MetroCard: Automating New York City’s Public Transit System. Proceedings of the First International Conference on Urban Transportation Systems, American Society of Civil Engineers, Miami, Fla. (March 21–25, 1999).
  18. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (December 31, 2008). "Murder Case Dropped After MetroCard Verifies Alibi". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  19. ^ Pierre-Pierre, Garry (February 21, 1997). "205 More Buses Ordered To Handle Free Transfers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f " - MetroCard: Fares at A Glance". 
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b c d e f Path fares
  23. ^ a b "MTA Staten Island Railway Fare and Transfer Information",
  24. ^ a b c B62 schedule page 11,
  25. ^ "Free Transfer for Staten Island Veterans", 12/13/2013,
  26. ^ Q33 transfers,
  27. ^ a b c "How to Ride the Bus", under 'Making Connections',
  28. ^ a b c d e f BxM4C schedule notes (page 2)
  29. ^ "Problem with MetroCard?". Retrieved 2011-05-21. 
  30. ^ "Has your MetroCard expired?". Retrieved 2011-05-21. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ a b c
  33. ^ "Insurance for 30-Day MetroCard". New York City Transit. 
  34. ^ a b c d e f g h i j
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^ "MTA/New York City Transit - Fares and MetroCard". 
  38. ^ a b NYC Department of Education, Student MetroCards page
  39. ^ a b c "Cost and Tickets". 
  40. ^ a b "Fares & Passes". 
  41. ^ a b c d e "MTA/New York City Transit - Fares and MetroCard". 
  42. ^ "Reduced-Fare" information,
  43. ^ a b c NICE bus schedule for N6 (Local) and N6X (Express) - 'Fare Information' (page 2),
  44. ^ a b Fares and MetroCard. Westchester County. 27 January 2014. Retrieved April 22, 2014. 
  45. ^ About the $1 New Card Fee,
  46. ^ 7 day Unlimited ride price
  47. ^ 30 day Unlimited ride price
  48. ^ 7 day Express Bus Plus ride price
  49. ^ a b AirTrain JFK Unlimited ride price
  50. ^ QM1 schdeule fare information, page 2
  51. ^ Select Bus Service fare payment,
  52. ^ I-Bus fare structure
  53. ^ TappanZEExpress schedule, transfer connections (page 1)
  54. ^ Bee-Line bus map (page 1)
  56. ^ "Fixed Route Fares". Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  57. ^ Out-of-system transfer detail,
  58. ^ "Regular MetroCard Conditions of Use",
  59. ^
  60. ^ "MTA/New York City Transit - MetroCard Bus and Van". 
  61. ^ * Metropolitan Transportation Authority Homepage
  62. ^ The NYC Subway Trial - FAQs (MasterCard)
  63. ^ "MTA Launches Smart Card Trial Program". NY1. July 11, 2006. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  64. ^ "Subway 'Smart Cards' Program Begins". Archived from the original on July 14, 2006. 
  65. ^ "Smart Cards for the Subways". 
  66. ^ a b "Front-Facing Advertising Debuts on MetroCards". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  67. ^ Halbfinger, David. "M.T.A. Turns Deal-Maker In Promoting Metro Cards". The New York Times. 
  68. ^ Luo, Michael (February 3, 2004). "MetroCard Dispensers Breaking Down, Victims of Tampering and Their Own Success". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  69. ^ "Golden: Assembly Inaction Allows MetroCard Swipe Scam to Continue in New York" (Press release).  
  70. ^ "Rules of Conduct". MTA New York City Transit. Section 1050.13. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  71. ^ "22C3: Magnetic Stripe Technology". 2005-12-27. 

External links

  • Comprehensive reference for collectors of New York MTA Metrocards
  • Ongoing catalog of special metrocards
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