New York City Public Transportation:: MetroCard

I grew up in a town of about 7,000 people. I live in a town with less than 4,000 people. I think there is one taxi in a neighboring town. We don’t have a public bus system or a subway…except for Subway the restaurant! So, when I visit a big city, public transportation can be a little intimidating. When we got to New York, we took a taxi to our hotel because it was the easiest option that required the least amount of thinking. We knew, though, that we would be using the subway system because it was going to be the quickest and most cost effective option. We were only in New York City for 3 nights. I wasn’t sure which option was our best choice because I didn’t know how many times we would be riding. I thought it would be right around 13 rides and that is the number that makes the unlimited option more cost effective. In the end we decided that if we had the unlimited and then made a mistake that we wouldn’t have to worry about it. We made only one mistake that we weren’t able to “fix.” We went into an entrance that the train was heading south and we wanted to head north. We had done that before but were able to get to the other side of the track without exiting. At this location, we weren’t able to do that. We tried to leave and go to the other side but when we swiped we couldn’t get through. The screen read “Just Used.” I read later that you have to wait 18 minutes before using the card again. I suppose that keeps people from sharing a card. We ended up walking that one! By our last day, we were even able to take the subway to a bus transfer (which was included in the cost of the MetroCard) and take the M60 bus to LaGuardia from Astoria. At least we saved the fee of the cab on the return to the airport as well, which would have been $20. We paid $31 each for the 7-Day Unlimited and a fee for a new card. If you are staying for 3 nights or more, I think that the Unlimited would be the way to go.



I copied this chart from here:


Ways to Save

Number of Rides Refill/Buy this Card Cost Your cost per ride
Fewer than 13 Pay-Per-Ride ($5.25 value with 5% bonus) $5


13 trips per week

20 trips per week

25 trips per week

7-Day Unlimited $30




48 trips per month

50 trips per month

60 trips per month

30-Day Unlimited $112




Express Bus Rider

5 days per week (10 rides)

7-Day Express Bus Plus $55


Occasional Express Bus Rider


($10.50 value with 5% Bonus)