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OpinionColumnistsMark Chiusano

Charging out-of-town visitors could unlock lots of money for New York

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will start charging

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will start charging a required fee for out-of-town visitors in March to increase revenue. Some other city agencies might be able to learn something. Photo Credit: NEWSDAY / ROBERT MECEA

The Metropolitan Museum of Art with the blessing of the New York City government announced last week that admission will cost $25 for out-of-towners. New Yorkers will still be allowed to name their own price, but starting in March visitors will need to cough up the pre-set amount.

The officials cut themselves off before announcing charges for tourists eating boiled hot dogs on the steps. They also opted not to go for a requirement that visitors throw at least ten pennies into the fountain, not one.

Admissions only cover about 14 percent of the museum’s budget, and the change is only expected to increase that percentage a few points. But it’s lean times in New York, particularly for nonprofits, and the Met says this is a fairer option than other price-raising ideas like charging for special exhibits (which would also affect New Yorkers). So that’s 25 big ones if you’re an adult from outside the Empire State (there are breaks for students from New Jersey and Connecticut).

The idea might have gotten some other city institutions thinking. Imagine: Representatives of city government piggy-back on the Met announcement to propose a $50 cover charge for Times Square on New Year’s Eve. No chance in hell the move would affect real New Yorkers.

A few other initiatives to cadge some money off non-locals might follow soon after: $20 for Central Park entrance, or $25 if you also want to make a political donation to the no-horse-carriage campaign.

Ten for the Staten Island Ferry, including a three-day pass to buy NYC Ferry tickets for the price of a MetroCard (limited time only!).

On the ferry, there could be a $2 surcharge for special seats with a good view of the Statue of Liberty. Freedom Fanatics™ passes to be purchased online or under the table in Battery Park.

Not to be outdone, the MTA moves swiftly to get board approval for a new fare payment system: New Yorkers and visitors would be invited to swipe their ol’ MetroCards, whereupon if the swipe goes through cleanly it costs $2.75 and if it doesn’t you get the tourist price of $3.40. Then somebody remembers that the governor runs the MTA and this system gets stalled while we put a light show on the Major Deegan.

However, more nimble city agencies could act more quickly. Over a weekend the Department of Transportation places E-Z Pass readers on the Brooklyn Bridge bike lane, thinking you’d have to be an idiot to be a local and try your chances there. The FDNY and NYPD develop a receipt system so that for every paramedic visit they pull off, for every mugger they scare away, there would be an Out of State surcharge. You just can’t be too careful about who you’re protecting and serving.

Danny Meyer’s restaurants join foodtrucks everywhere in switching from a no-tip policy to a double-tip for anyone who asks for “hoagies,” “grinders” or “spuckies.”

Calls to the Mets revealed not a single fan anywhere but here and Florida, so no changes in Queens. The Yankees, however, would soon be preparing for quintupled revenue.

Meanwhile, the Islanders get in touch with Mayor Bill de Blasio to ask whether they are considered New Yorkers anymore.

Anyway, when that all happens the city fathers will be beside themselves with glee, anticipating that we’re gonna be just fine with the financial situation now, just fine.

In an anomaly, hotels citywide say they’ll be drastically lowering their prices. Because they know the city wouldn’t be the same without guests.


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