MetroCards shouldn’t expire, says City Councilman Paul Vallone

MTA passengers have to pay $1 to replace MetroCards when they expire.
MTA passengers have to pay $1 to replace MetroCards when they expire. Photo Credit: MELISSA KRAVITZ

A Queens Council member wants the MTA to drop expiration dates on MetroCards.

City Councilman Paul Vallone is introducing a resolution to the Council on Wednesday calling for the MTA to eliminate two-year expiration dates on its fare cards. Vallone said the policy is unfair for commuters, calling it a “sneaky and unnecessary” practice.

“The MTA made $500 million from 2000-2010 in expired MetroCard fares. That is why I am introducing a resolution that would put an end to this sneaky and unnecessary process that swipes $50 million a year out of our pockets,” said Vallone in a statement.

“By removing expiration dates from MetroCards, we will put this money back into the pockets of the New Yorkers that rely on public transportation to get around this great city. It’s time for the MTA to acknowledge that fare is fare.”

The millions that the MTA collects each year from expired MetroCards is considered fare box revenue, which the MTA pumps back into its system. Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the MTA, called the councilman’s comments “simply absurd.”

“The councilman’s notion that we are doing something sneaky is off base and simply absurd,” Ortiz said in an email. “Every dollar we get from customers goes back into providing service.”

Ortiz added that MetroCards have an expiration date because wear and tear on the cards can eventually render their magnetic strips unusable.

The MTA also cannot access data on the cards after three years of use, Ortiz said, adding that when the agency begins introducing its next generation fare payment system, starting in 2018, the expiration date will become a non issue.

But the cards probably won’t be completely phased out by at least the end of 2023. Vallone believes that’s enough time for the policy change to have an impact on riders.