A map of 1978 bus transfers, from a 1975-1978 Department of City Planning Bus Study. Created by and courtesy of Allan Rosen. Click to enlarge

THE COMMUTE: Next to providing air conditioning on the subways and buses, the second greatest advancement made by the MTA/New York City Transit Authority was to provide free bus transfers throughout the system. Providing transfers between buses and subways comes in third and unlimited ride cards fourth, in my opinion. Even with all these advancements we still do not have a fare that is fair for everyone. If your trip requires more than two buses you must pay a second fare, but the number of subway trains you can take for one fare is unlimited.

Why should that be the case? Shouldn’t it be guaranteed that your trip within the city cost you only one fare, regardless of the number of vehicles required, or your fare determined by some other rational means? After all, you are not getting better service for the extra fare you pay. In fact you are already being penalized with additional wait times for that third bus. An extra fare would only make sense if you were being provided with extra service, because you are making an unusual trip and it is costing the MTA extra to provide that service to you. That is not the case. You require a third bus in most cases because of deficiencies in the routing system, which don’t permit you to complete your trip using two buses, or a bus and trains(s). That is not your fault — yet you are penalized for system inadequacies.

It Used To Be Much Worse

When I was growing up in the 1950s, my father would routinely make us walk a half-mile to take a bus when the closest one was less than a quarter of a mile away. He did this to save a fare, which was only 15 cents at the time. That seemed ridiculous to me on two levels. First, because the fare was only 15 cents, and second because I could not understand why a bus route would transfer to one route but not another. It wasn’t ridiculous to him, however. An extra fare raised the cost of a round trip to the beach from $1.20 to $2.40 for a family of four, and when you have to support a family on an annual income of $3,000 to $4,000 a year, every penny saved did, indeed, count.

As I grew up, I learned that the subway system was formerly operated by two private companies — the IRT, BMT, and by the city, which called its system the IND. Also, that the bus and trolley lines were once operated by the BMT and, before that, by private companies. Each company was competing for the same clientele before being taken over by the New York City Board of Transportation in 1940, and later by the New York City Transit Authority in 1953, which also operated most all buses in Brooklyn.

When all routes were privately operated, there were few if any transfers between divisions of the subway. Transfers between different bus companies only existed when it was considered to be beneficial for both companies. To make matters even more confusing, sometimes you could transfer from a northbound route, for example, to travel east, but it would cost you an extra fare to travel west on the same bus route. [See above map from my 1975-1978 Department of City Planning Bus Study.]

If a route operated only during the summer, or was discontinued, a three-legged transfer would permit you to ride a third bus for a single fare. No one would have to pay an extra fare as a result of a service discontinuation. That part was logical. Usually free transfers were given when you boarded the bus, but in some locations, such as at the Williamsburg Bridge, everyone was entitled to a free transfer upon getting off the bus… even if you boarded with a free transfer.

If this wasn’t complicated enough, in 1962, the private bus companies in Manhattan and the Bronx folded and were taken over by a newly-created subsidiary of the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) called the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MaBSTOA). As part of the agreement for city takeover, virtually all bus transfers in Manhattan and The Bronx were eliminated. Therefore, every time you needed to change for a different bus, it would cost you an additional fare. By comparison, we in Brooklyn — where the free transfers that existed were maintained — were lucky.

Subway Bias

When the subway system was unified under the Board of Transportation in 1940, measures were immediately taken to create underground free transfers between the three divisions. These did not appear overnight, however. During my lifetime I remember free transfers created at the Atlantic Avenue complex and at 14th Street between Seventh Avenue and Eighth Avenue to name two. More recently, free transfers were created in Long Island City between the G and E lines, and a long-needed free transfer was created between the Jay Street and Lawrence Street stations, now known as Jay Street-Metrotech. Another free transfer at Broadway-Lafayette Street and the Bleecker Street platform northbound is due to open this month. These efforts were all undertaken to increase the flexibility and usage of the subway system.

However, for buses, it was quite another story. Before the introduction of free bus transfers system-wide in 1994 within the NYCTA / MaBSTOA family of routes in 1981, any bus route that was instituted or extended after the 1953 creation of the New York City Transit Authority offered no free transfers on that portion of the route. Double fares were required until September 1975, when Add-A-Rides provided some temporary relief to the double fare by allowing a second fare for the price of a half fare, or 25 cents.

The payment of an additional fare or half fare reduced the usage of new routes and extensions. For example, the B78 (now the B47) on Ralph Avenue was created around 1966. If you lived midway between Utica Avenue and Ralph Avenue, which route would you use if you required a transfer — the one offering them for free or the route that required a double fare an additional charge? Many would walk extra just for the free transfer. That practice made trips take longer and overcrowded some routes unnecessarily.

Change Takes A Long Time

For as long as I can remember, I was always interested in maps and subways. However, it was this crazy transfer system that first got me interested in buses. It took me years to realize that the transfers, as well as the routes, were both accidents of history and that neither of them was planned. After all, who would devise a system in which you are penalized if you used the most convenient bus line? In Manhattan, you were encouraged to use mass transit for the longer component of your trip (north/south, or east/west) and to walk the shorter component. Although the Brooklyn Queens Transit Corporation (BQT) and later the Brooklyn Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT) absorbed all the privately-operated bus lines in Brooklyn before World War II, they never changed the transfer policy to allow transfers between all routes. Worse yet, the NYCTA, in 1953, also retained this same transfer policy from the 1920s and 1930s.

How to take 14 different bus lines for one fare in 1973. Map created by and courtesy of Allan Rosen. Click to enlarge

Add-A-Rides did nothing, however, to provide any rationality to New York City’s fare policy. In 1972, when I needed a topic for my Masters Thesis in Urban Planning, a further investigation of the bus system in Brooklyn provided me with the means to satisfy my curiosity to study the history of the bus routes and the transfer system. I devoted an entire chapter to the absurdity of the fare and transfer system, describing in detail how, by connecting the three-legged transfers that were in place, you were allowed to take as many as 14 consecutive buses on a single fare, when most two bus trips required additional fares. I even dedicated my thesis to “all the other New Yorkers who walk a half mile or more every day to avoid paying a double fare.”

Although 1981 was the pivotal year in rationalizing the transfer policy, it was not until 1993 that routes operated by private companies allowed free transfers between companies and to and from NYCTA / MaBSTOA routes. Even then severe restrictions were placed on the new transfers offered.  They were not permitted with intersecting routes at a terminus or within ¾ mile of a terminus.  Two bus trips for one fare, everywhere, were not allowed until MetroCard Gold was introduced in 1994 1997 when paper transfers listing routes where transfers were permitted were replaced with MetroCard transfers to the bus and subway. This finally ended the irrational bus transfer system, in place since before 1940.

Next Week: Are we moving backwards, and how the introduction of Limited Stop Service and Select Bus Service are also necessitating double-fares or longer walks.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Correction (8/14/2012 at 1:46 p.m.): Both references to 1993 have been changed to 1994. We apologize for any confusion.

Clarification (9/4/2012): The author of the article requested permission to make edits and clarifications to the above post. The content remains largely the same, though some paragraphs have been restructured. In the instances where the author sought to correct factual information within the article, we have included the original information with a strikethrough to indicate the correction.

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  • sonicboy678

    It may also help sometimes to have special transfers in place for bus routes with alternating services such as the Bx23 (rush-hour services), the B41 (mainly southbound), the Q10 (this route splits at Lefferts and Rockaway Boulevards and rejoins in the airport limits), the S51 (if you’re trying to go to Fort Wadsworth but end up on one bypassing the area), and the B17 (again, rush-hour services). It may be difficult to do, but it’s possible. This is mainly for people that end up on the wrong bus and have to switch because of confusion that can arise from having one designation for two possible routes.

    • Allan Rosen

      I remember when the bus drivers used to make allowances for passenger errors such as you describe, by taking a paper transfer and writing a note on the back for the other bus driver. Guess they don’t do that anymore.

      • sonicboy678

        They probably don’t because the MetroCards are rigged to handle all transfers.

  • anonymous

    If you live on long island, you should get free transfers within the MTA to the subway, and vice versa.  Wouldn’t that be fair?

    And why stop at at free transfers within the MTA.  If you live in Philly, you should get a free transfer too.  Washington DC? Sure.  No problem, we have free transfers from Amtrak.  How about Los Angeles?  No problem, free transfers from the MTA to United Airlines! 

    Free transfers for everyone, no matter where the live!  Now that’s fair.

    (Free – just another word for someone else pays for it)

    • Allan Rosen

      The point of the article wasn’t that there should be free transfers everywhere in the free world. It was that it made no sense to have a free transfer to one bus route but not to another or that is was free to go west but not to go east.

      Maybe you need to read a little more carefully. And by the way you do get free transfers within the MTA to the subway and I believe that includes MTA Bus. Anyone know if the Q35 or B100 transfers to the subway for free like NYCT routes?

      • gustaajedrez

        I don’t see why they wouldn’t. I’ve gotten transfers from the X17 (NYCT route) to the BxM3 (MTAB route), so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work between the local bus & subway.

        As for the transfers between short-turns/branches and the regular route, I think that might still work. I remember once I took an S46 that ended at Forest Avenue, and the B/O asked me if I needed to go further south. I told him yes, but not to worry about it (the reason I took the short-turn was because I didn’t know when the regular one would come), but he insisted on giving me a transfer so I took it. I think I walked anyway, so I didn’t know if it worked, but if the B/O thought it would work, maybe it does. I’ve seen people get on at Forest Avenue before, saying they came off a short-turn, and I think some might’ve used transfers, but I forget if they worked or not.

        • Allan Rosen

          Transfers not supposed to be good for the same route but they could have programmed short turns in somehow. Since the bus farebox doesn’t know what stops you got on or off, I don’t know how they could do that. Perhaps drivers accept them at short turn points even of they are rejected by the farebox.

          As far as my other question, the reason I asked it is because I remember when the private companies first started transferring for free to NYCT routes transfers excluded intersecting bus or subway routes within three quarters of a mile from a bus terminus. I assumed that was later changed but wasn’t sure.

  • Peppertree5706

    I remember the 1960′s era transfers had a list of allowable transfers from the route on the back of the transfer. That was in Brooklyn.

    I like the system in some cities, where a transfer is good on any route, unlimited transfers for two hours. Better than the one transfer Metrocard.

  • Andrew

    Your facts are just plain wrong. MaBSTOA had free transfers as far back as the 70′s or maybe the early 80′s, long before MetroCard. (And MetroCard transfers – which primarily added the ability to transfer between bus and subway – started in 1997, not 1994. There was a change in the transfer policy in 1993, however, allowing free transfers to private bus lines.)

    • sonicboy678

      Well, LOOK WHO FINALLY SHOWED UP!!!!
      Since you seem to know SO MUCH about our buses, let’s see where you get your information from and how it compares to one person’s many years of experience with public transportation.

      • Andrew

        I hate to break it to you, but your deity made a mistake. This wouldn’t be the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

        • sonicboy678

          If you saw me just before I started typing this, you would see a serious facepalm. Have you forgotten about your mistakes? Besides, if you did notice, a minor mistake was made and was corrected soon after. It’s even stated above. People make mistakes, but your mistake is calling an experienced person’s views on a particular matter as well as detailing the different circumstances involved mistakes.

          • Andrew

            Which mistakes of mine are in need of correction?

            Your deity’s article still claims that “Before the introduction of free bus transfers system-wide in 1994, any bus route that was instituted or extended after the 1953 creation of the New York City Transit Authority offered no free transfers on that portion of the route” and “Two bus trips for one fare, everywhere, were not allowed until MetroCard was introduced in 1994.”  The supposed increase in transfer privileges was already in place in the early 1980′s and had nothing to do with MetroCard, which was first implemented in buses in 1995 and didn’t handle transfers until 1997.

            If free systemwide bus transfers began in 1981, as indicated in the post I cited below, I’m surprised he doesn’t realize that, since that was during his brief tenure as a transportation planner.

          • sonicboy678

            Do I really have to say? Seriously?
            An extension or a creation of a bus route providing no free transfers comes as no surprise. Why would they want to have new free transfers that early on for the updated/new route? Why didn’t they keep tabs on their preexisting routes and try to ensure legitimate transfers? Why were you able to take up to 14 buses for one fare in one direction? Keep in mind that this was LONG before cards existed with full transfer functionality (bus transfers, bus-subway or subway-bus transfers, and the eventual programming of these transfers as well as special subway-subway transfers on the cards used for everyday fares).
            As for the other statement that you selected, I have only one thing to say. You seem to love twisting messages, don’t you? Come on. It was only in that time period where everything had been revamped, especially with technology improving. One of those improvements was the MetroCard. Despite initially being designed for the subway, buses were also fitted with fareboxes that ended up being rigged to handle MetroCards and give out free transfers (which effectively nullified the broken system of transfers). Even if they didn’t handle the transfers themselves until 1997 (when MetroCard Gold became the norm), measures were taken to end the craziness involving paid and free transfers.

          • Allan Rosen

            Your statement that MaBSTOA had free transfers as far back as the 1970s or early 80s needs correction. So far you have only shown they existed in 1986. That is still over 20 years where they weren’t allowed.

            My statement actually was correct that free transfers were not introduced systemwide until 1994. Actually it wasn’t until later than that when MetroCard started handling all bus transfers and paper transfers were abolished which I think may have not happened until 1998. The transfers between privately operated routes and NYCT and between different private companies did not occur until 1993 and even then there were restrictions that no transfers would be allowed within 3/4 mile of a routes terminus which accounted for a good number of possible transfers.

            I should have also stated by the mid 1980s add-a-rides were replaced by free transfers.

          • Andrew

            Your statement that MaBSTOA had free transfers as far back as the 1970s or early 80s needs correction.

            Oh? What’s your source?

            So far you have only shown they existed in 1986.

            And you claimed that MaBSTOA didn’t have free bus transfers until 1994! When I pointed out that error, this was your response: “Well sir, it is your facts that are just plain wrong.  Please provide one single reference that states MaBTOA ever provided any free transfers.  You won’t find any because they never did.  Your facts are 100% wrong, so please shut up when you don’t have the faintest idea what you are talking about.” Then you added, “I was very careful in my wording. You aren’t. You just constantly make mistakes and misstatements and when you are caught, you just stop responding.  I’m still waiting for your first admission of being outright wrong as you are here.”

            It looks like, in fact, you were wrong, as I had been saying all along: MaBSTOA most clearly did offer free bus transfers well before 1994. I think you owe me an apology, but I won’t hold my breath.

            That is still over 20 years where they weren’t allowed.

            It was 20 years from “as far back as the 70′s or maybe the early 80′s” to 1986?! (I never claimed that MaBSTOA offered free transfers from day one.)

            My statement actually was correct that free transfers were not introduced systemwide until 1994.

            I am not aware of a transfer policy change that took place in 1994. There was a policy change in 1993 and there was a major policy change in 1997, but what changed in 1994?

            Despite your multiple claims to the contrary, free transfers on and between NYCTA and MaBSTOA routes were in place by the early 1980′s.

            Actually it wasn’t until later than that when MetroCard started handling all bus transfers and paper transfers were abolished which I think may have not happened until 1998.

            As I already said, the MetroCard system took over transfers on July 4, 1997.

            The transfers between privately operated routes and NYCT and between different private companies did not occur until 1993 and even then there were restrictions that no transfers would be allowed within 3/4 mile of a routes terminus which accounted for a good number of possible transfers.

            Yes, I already said that transfers to/from the private lines started in 1993.

            I should have also stated by the mid 1980s add-a-rides were replaced by free transfers.

            Good morning!  That’s what I’ve been saying all along!!!!!

    • Allan Rosen

      You know I think I have been far too nice to you politely responding to all your attacks and never a compliment.   Well sir, it is your facts that are just plain wrong.  Please provide one single reference that states MaBTOA ever provided any free transfers.  You won’t find any because they never did.  Your facts are 100% wrong, so please shut up when you don’t have the faintest idea what you are talking about.

      You also need to learn how to read English correctly.  I never made any statement that stated free bus subway transfers started in 1994. I spoke exclusively about bus transfers. So quit misstating what I said, then saying that I am wrong. 

      I never said that bus transfers in Manhattan were eliminated in 1962. I was speaking specifically about MaBSTOA. The article would have been too long if I went into every single nuance. NYCTA operates about six local bus routes in Manhattan. Those transfers were maintained after 1962. For example the M15 (First and Second Ave) was NYCTA, not MaBSTOA and it transferred for free to other crosstown routes which also were NYCTA.  Those transfers were maintained and were continued after MetroCard was introduced. An example would be to the 67th/68th Street route. I didn’t mention NYCTA bus routes in Manhattan since they account for such a small percentage of routes.

      I was very careful in my wording. You aren’t. You just constantly make mistakes and misstatements and when you are caught, you just stop responding.  I’m still waiting for your first admission of being outright wrong as you are here.

      P.S. I’m surprised you didn’t blame Cymbrowitz for MaBSTOA’s elmination of free transfers. You blame him for everything else. 

      • Andrew

        Nice try, but I rode MaBSTOA buses in Manhattan on a daily basis from the mid-80′s through the early-90′s, and I always got free blue or orange transfers. As I recall, the transfer privilege didn’t distinguish between MaBSTOA and NYCTA bus lines, but I rarely rode NYCTA lines, so I could be wrong about that. But I am absolutely certain that transfers between MaBSTOA buses in Manhattan were free.

        A few months I found an old transfer from that period – I can’t remember where I put it, but if I find it again, I’d be happy to scan it and send it to you. What’s your email?

        There were no MetroCard transfers until July 4, 1997, when free subway-bus transfers were initiated. Until July 3, 1997, bus-bus transfers were made with the same paper transfers that had been in use before MetroCard.

        • Andrew

          Here are two paper transfers from MaBSTOA buses in 1996:
          http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/707/mtapapertransfer.png/

          This is the same type of transfer that was in use in the 80′s, when I used them frequently, and they remained in use until July 3, 1997. The next day, MetroCard transfers took over.

          Here’s a post (not mine, despite the similar name) that describes the history of transfers, with MaBSTOA transfers beginning in 1981:
          http://www.subchat.com/buschat/read.asp?Id=56979

          I started riding MaBSTOA buses, and using the free transfers, a few years afterwards.

          • Allan Rosen

            You may be correct that universal free bus transfers started prior to MetroCard in 1995. But I seriously doubt that it began in 1981. I remember add-a-rides in effect for much longer than six years. It is possible that free bus transfers began with one of the fare increases either in 1990 or 1992. That would mean there would to have to have been transfers with all intersecting bus routes on them printed on the front and back. I think I do recall such transfers.

            I now also remember that paper transfers were still in use for several years after MetroCard was in use on the buses because they still was not any card transfers in 1997 because I have a few test cards from that time with a design that was never in use. I believe it only had the word transfer on it without the word MetroCard.

            When I get a chance I will look for some old MTA materials which may have the exact date when add-a-rides were discontinued which occurred long after 1981.

          • Andrew

            Here’s another indication that 1981 was probably the start date:
            http://www.nytimes.com/1981/07/02/nyregion/free-bus-transfers-may-be-voted.html

        • Andrew

          By the way, I’m curious how you think MetroCard had any impact on bus-bus transfers in 1994, seeing as buses didn’t start accepting MetroCards until September 1995!

          http://www.mta.info/nyct/facts/ffhist.htm

      • Andrew

        Here’s a transfer from 1986 issued on the MaBSTOA M104 – one file showing both sides, the other zoomed in on the detailed list of valid transfer points on the back, which includes both NYCTA routes (M15, M29, I think that’s it) and other MaBSTOA routes (the rest).

        What’s that you were saying about MaBSTOA bus transfers not being available until 1994?

        • sonicboy678

          Uh, look at the routes carefully in the list.

          • Andrew

            Anything in particular you’d like me to look for?

          • Andrew

            What am I looking for?

          • sonicboy678

            Notice the layout of the transfers. See how limited they are? Granted, some transfers are rather unnecessary by comparison to others, but it states that only certain transfers could be made in particular directions. (Before you say ANYTHING concerning the layouts of bus routes in 1981, I never actually saw the maps. I’m trying to work off of memory concerning maps from within the past 10 years and, to a lesser extent, geography.)

          • Allan Rosen

            Actually the transfers allowed seems pretty encompassing. However, there are a few transfers that were still not allowed like going west on 72nd and 79th Streets. I woud doubt those routes ended there.

          • sonicboy678

            (Allan Rosen)

            I do wish that I had more experience with the bus routes; sadly, I missed just about everything before 2000. I’ll try to see if there are pictures of maps from the 1980s, but I can’t guarantee anything.

          • Andrew

            @266c9f22baa38d698e89d296e81d532b:disqus That’s how transfers worked until MetroCard took over in 1997. Allan claimed that there were no free MaBSTOA transfers until 1994, but in fact the M104 and almost all of the bus routes listed on the back of that 1986 transfer are MaBSTOA lines.

            Here’s a Manhattan bus map from 1976: http://www.nycsubway.org/wiki/Historical_Maps#Bus_Maps

            @164b88b5feda652c00faa544c6ebc3f8:disqus The M17 terminated at West End, one block west of Broadway (as did the M18 and M19).

            Both directions of the M30 are covered. From the East Side, the M30 ran west on 72nd and 57th (as it did until it was discontinued in 2010) before proceeding up Broadway and east on 72nd to Central Park West. Look at the 1976 map – the route was still the same in 1986. There are two transfer points to the M30 listed, one toward 72 St-York (eastbound) and one toward Central Park W (“westbound”). Anybody who needed a bus going west toward Riverside could transfer to the M5.

  • Pingback: What’s A Fair Fare? Part 2 Of 3 — Are We Moving Backwards? | Sheepshead Bay News Blog

  • NeckRoadWarrior

    As you said before, there are incomprehensible drawbacks to the current fare structure; especially when it comes to buses.

    Case in point: Disabled or Elderly bus riders

    As many know, the MTA allows those over a certain age, or having a
    qualified disability, to only pay half the current fare, whether it be
    via cash, pay-per-ride Metrocard, or time-based Metrocard. The methods
    used to implement this policy don’t cover all circumstances, and
    especially not for some who are unable to travel distances – such as to a
    subway station.

    The most inexplicable, and egregious (in the MTA’s response), result of
    this oversight is forcing those who are entitled to, and often can only
    afford, the reduced fare to pay full fare instead. This happens when a
    rider who has a full-fare card and additional reduced-fare eligible
    identification (Medicare or A-A-R card, or Reduced-fare Metrocard with
    no/insufficient balance), is still debited the full fare when boarding a
    bus. Unlike at a subway station, where a clerk can issue the eligible
    rider a return-trip ticket at no cost (although, still annoyingly
    limited in use – no train-to-bus transfer possible), the bus operator
    does not.

    In appearance, this return-trip ticket is basically one of the subway
    service disruption block tickets, or the paper bus transfers of yore.
    Something that a bus driver could certainly be supplied with, but isn’t.
    In fact, the old RTS buses still have the dashboard holders for pads of
    those old transfers. Why drivers are not supplied these tickets is not
    known, and to which the phone customer service line reps will not even
    address.

    Obviously, such eligible riders would avoid this by possessing an issued
    reduced-fare card loaded with sufficient balance, but not all who are
    eligible have the card. Many use a Medicare card instead, along with a
    standard Metrocard or cash. For those who were unaware, it can take
    months to apply for a reduced-fare card if all goes smoothly.
    Additionally, this eligible population often have more limited incomes
    than most who take advantage of public transportation. This often means
    they’ve already received full-fare Metrocards from family members, or to
    recoup medical travel expenses. Some also cannot commit funds for
    travel until absolutely necessary, not being aware of remaining card
    balances, if they have the RFMC, or not easily accessing stations (or
    Metrocard bus/van stops) to refill such a card. All together, this often
    leaves them with a difficult choice.

    Whatever the cause, this has been an ongoing issue for years and one
    that MTA cust. serv. reps are aware of. They seemingly are scripted to
    not address or comment about this matter. I know; as a volunteer I have
    advocated on the part of several individuals, and repeatedly hit the
    same wall.

    Whether a missed error, or cruel revenue stream, add this to the list.
     

    • Allan Rosen

      I think I understand what you are saying.  If I am correct, the problem could be avoided if the senior always carries $1.10 in change when there is no money left on the card.

      Have you tried contacting an elected official about the problem and the MTA’s response?

      • NeckRoadWarrior

        Except, that if the rider in question uses cash, and is in a situation where they will transfer to a subway, say at an ADA-accessible station, they cannot use the paper transfer given by the driver to continue that one trip, but must pay more, which constitutes a full fare. It’s not a situation easily envisioned by those without disability, and maybe that is one of the reasons why it continues.

        As for escalating the matter further, I’ve made inquiries, and will probably so so again, but I wish this were something taken up by more powerful advocates for the disabled or elderly.

        • Allan Rosen

          Try getting in touch with them.

    • Andrew

      The problem is that, strictly speaking, there are only two valid ways to pay the reduced fare: with a Reduced Fare MetroCard or with cash (coins on buses): http://www.mta.info/nyct/fare/rfindex.htm

      On the bus, you can pay $1.10 at the farebox. On the subway, there’s no mechanism for paying only $1.10, so the procedure is to pay $2.25 and get a return trip ticket.

      Unofficially, nobody’s going to stop you from using a regular MetroCard on the subway and getting a return trip ticket, since the station agent has them on hand anyway. But there’s no reason (per the official fare policy!) for bus operators to have return trip tickets, so they don’t.

      The procedures for paying the reduced fare without an RFM are a pain. In addition to what you point out, it’s impossible to obtain or to use a return trip ticket at any subway station entrance that isn’t staffed, which in some cases requires travel in the wrong direction! I’m hoping the new smartcard system includes a better way to accommodate reduced fare riders with cash, but I don’t know what’s planned.

      Meanwhile, if you’re worried about having to refill your RFM, this may come in handy: https://www.easypaymetrocard.com/vector/static/faq/ReducedFaq.shtml

      And be glad you’re not riding PATH, where the only way to get the reduced fare is to use the Senior SmartLink Card, which has to be ordered in advance by mail. Forget about using cash, and even a New York City Transit RFM won’t work on PATH.

      • Allan Rosen

        Okay, Andrew.  Let’s summarize what happened here. I write a lengthy article about the history of free transfers which is 99% correct and contains one factual error that universal free transfers were not put into place until 1994.  I should have stated that free transfers replaced add-a-rides in July 1981 (or perhaps it was 1986).

        That still doesn’t mean we had a totally free transfer system in place then since private lines did not start offering free transfers between companies or to the MTA routes until 1993 and even then there were severe restrictions placed on the transfers such as no transfers to routes within 3/4 mile of a route’s terminus. It wasn’t until MetroCard took over the transfers in 1997 that you could pretty much transfer between any two bus lines. So when I stated that was possible in 1994, I actually made was still being generous. 

        Then you come along and criticize the entire article in an attempt to discredit it by stating “Your facts are plain wrong.”  In fact only one fact was wrong.  Then you go on with your own inaccuracies accusing me of stating bus subway transfers began in 1994, something I never said. The entire gist of the article is correct, that it took 50 or 60 years before we had a transfer system that one could call rationale, though still imperfect because some trips still required double fare to be completed. 

        You stated that I would never apologize to you. I will. I was a little hard on you accusing you of not knowing your facts and I was wrong.  By the same token or MetroCard, you also owe me an apology for coming off the way you did which caused by reaction to you. My objective is accuracy, while yours seems to be discrediting every article I write. There are ways of correcting someone in a polite and civilized manner, not by coming off like an arrogant ass as you often do by always attacking and never saying anything positive about anyone or anything. None of us are perfect, unless you believe you are. If you don’t change your attitude and apologize too for your constant attacks, I might just stop responding to you at all.  Many have suggested to me long ago that I do just that.

        Later today I will send Ned an e-mail asking if he could make the corrections needed with a strikeout.

        • Andrew

          Okay, Andrew.  Let’s summarize what happened here. I write a lengthy article about the history of free transfers which is 99% correct and contains one factual error that universal free transfers were not put into place until 1994.  I should have stated that free transfers replaced add-a-rides in July 1981 (or perhaps it was 1986).

          Allan, do you understand the importance of fact-checking? You wrote a long article containing a lot of history. I happen to be personally familiar with only one major element of that history, and you got it wrong – not wrong by a few months or a year, but wrong by a good 13 years. You also linked the broadening of free transfers to the arrival of MetroCard in 1994, when in fact the only new transfer privileges offered by MetroCard were subway-bus transfers, and that wasn’t until 1997.

          What that suggests to me, the reader, is that you aren’t very careful with details, and that I shouldn’t put much faith in the rest of your history, which I’m not as familiar with myself.

          I posted my correction for two reasons: first, to give you the opportunity to correct your article, and second, to give other readers a “heads up” that your article wasn’t entirely accurate.

          But instead of accepting my correction, you insisted that my facts were wrong and that you were very careful in your wording.: “I was very careful in my wording. You aren’t. You just constantly make mistakes and misstatements and when you are caught, you just stop responding.  I’m still waiting for your first admission of being outright wrong as you are here.” My post was, in fact, 100% correct.

          As Pat Moynihan allegedly said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

          That still doesn’t mean we had a totally free transfer system in place then since private lines did not start offering free transfers between companies or to the MTA routes until 1993

          The MTA doesn’t have the blanket authority to institute free transfers to or from privately operated lines not under its jurisdiction.

          As far as I can tell, as of 1981, free transfers were uniformly available between intersecting local bus routes operated by the NYCTA and MaBSTOA alike (I don’t know about the MSBA). MetroCard had nothing to do with it, and it didn’t take until 1994.

          and even then there were severe restrictions placed on the transfers such as no transfers to routes within 3/4 mile of a route’s terminus.

          Where did you come up with this? The very same transfer I posted earlier disproves it. A free transfer is listed from the M104 to the M30 at 72 St, half a mile from the M30′s terminus at Central Park West. A free transfer is listed from the M104 to the M29 at 66 St, 0.3 miles from the M29′s terminus at West End Avenue. A free transfer is listed from the M104 to the Bx29 at 125 St, 0.2 miles from the Bx29′s terminus at 12th Ave. (Follow along on the 1976 bus map that I posted a link to.)

          It wasn’t until MetroCard took over the transfers in 1997 that you could pretty much transfer between any two bus lines. So when I stated that was possible in 1994, I actually made was still being generous.

          MetroCard did away with the restrictions on where exactly transfers could take place, but already in 1981 transfers were available between intersecting routes, in all but the most marginal of cases (such as from the M104 to the westbound M17, which terminated at West End, one short block west of Broadway).

          Then you come along and criticize the entire article in an attempt to discredit it by stating “Your facts are plain wrong.”  In fact only one fact was wrong.  

          I can’t comment on the correctness of most of your purported facts. The little bit that I know about the history of transfers you got completely wrong.

          But let’s focus on that one fact. After I pointed out your error, rather than admit it, you insisted that you were correct and that I was incorrect multiple times for the next two days. It wasn’t until I pinned you into a corner by posting an actual 1986 transfer that you finally admitted that free MaBSTOA transfers were available prior to 1994. If accuracy were your goal, wouldn’t you have accepted my correction from the start?

          Then you go on with your own inaccuracies accusing me of stating bus subway transfers began in 1994, something I never said.

          Where did I say that? (I didn’t.)

          The entire gist of the article is correct, that it took 50 or 60 years before we had a transfer system that one could call rationale, though still imperfect because some trips still required double fare to be completed.

          If your argument is based on facts, I suggest that you endeavor to get the facts correct. At this point I’m not willing to assume that your other facts are correct either.

          You stated that I would never apologize to you. I will. I was a little hard on you accusing you of not knowing your facts and I was wrong.  

          Thank you, but you don’t need to apologize for being “a little hard” on me – you need to apologize for telling me that I was wrong when in fact I was absolutely correct.

          By the same token or MetroCard, you also owe me an apology for coming off the way you did which caused by reaction to you. My objective is accuracy, while yours seems to be discrediting every article I write.

          If your objective is accuracy, then why did you vehemently reject my correction?

          There are ways of correcting someone in a polite and civilized manner, not by coming off like an arrogant ass as you often do by always attacking and never saying anything positive about anyone or anything. None of us are perfect, unless you believe you are.

          You posted your article on a blog with a comment section. If you can’t handle a brief, four-sentence correction, then I would suggest that you’re using the wrong medium.

          Engage in your own fact-checking and you won’t have to worry about others challenging your facts.

          If you don’t change your attitude and apologize too for your constant attacks, I might just stop responding to you at all.  Many have suggested to me long ago that I do just that.

          You’re welcome to respond or not respond to whomever you choose.

          • Allan Rosen

            Again you keep making misstatements, making wrong accusations against me and refuse to acknowledge your own mistakes in your attempts to discredit me. I will try to be brief because I have more important things to do than constantly argue with you and if you do not correct yourself this time and apologize, I will just start to ignore you.

            Yes, I understand the importance of fact checking and do as accurate a job as I can. As I stated, there was only one real error in the article which I already acknowledged and will try to get corrected tomorrow. You are trying to give the false impression that much of the article is wrong and that just is not true.

            The fact that free transfers largely came 13 years before I thought is important, but does not change the gist of the article that an irrational transfer system existed from before 1940 to 1997. I never said that the MTA was entirely responsible for that so don’t imply that I said that.

            I initially insisted your facts were wrong (and some were) because of the way you come across, constantly attacking trying to discredit everything I write unless I agree with you placing some blame on the politicians which is the only time you agreed with me on anything.

            “The MTA doesn’t have the blanket authority to institute free transfers to or from privately operated lines not under its jurisdiction.”

            Where did I say that they do? This is just another example of you changing what I said and trying to mislead. I just stated a fact that there were no free transfers between the private companies and between the privates and the MTA and that was after 1981 when you believe the entire problem with free transfers was solved.  In Queens, this was a significant problem until MetroCard transfers provided for free transfers between virtually all bus routes except in a few cases where a round trip would be easy to make if allowed which you claim had no affect on bus transfers.

            Where did you accuse me of stating bus subway transfers began in 1994?  Right here in your very first comment–

            “Your facts are just plain wrong. MaBSTOA had free transfers as far back as the 70′s or maybe the early 80′s, long before MetroCard. (And MetroCard transfers – which primarily added the ability to transfer between bus and subway – started in 1997, not 1994. There was a change in the transfer policy in 1993, however, allowing free transfers to private bus lines.)” 

            By saying “not in 1994″, you are implying that I said bus subway transfers started in 1994 which I did not say so you are not “absolutely correct” as you wrongly stated.

            The no transfers within 3/4 of a mile of a route’s terminus applied when the privately lines started offering free transfers in 1993 between companies and to the MTA routes. For example the Q35 offered no free transfers at its terminal stop to TA routes at the Flatbush Nostrand Junction.  I happen to remember that. However, anything I state without a source that you do not recall, you consider untrue. I am not writing a thesis with footnotes that requires every fact be documented with references. Rather than accept it as true or finding a contradicting reference, you cite an inapplicable example with MaBSTOA routes when I never stated anywhere that the 3/4 rule applied between MaBSTOA routes or between MaBSTOA and NYCTA routes.

            Yet another example of your incorrect facts which you insist are 100% accurate, so yes you do owe me an apology.  I gave you one when I was wrong, but you won’t do the same when you are wrong.

            (P.S. I will be out of town without internet access for a while soon.)

          • Andrew

            Again you keep making misstatements, making wrong accusations against me and refuse to acknowledge your own mistakes in your attempts to discredit me. I will try to be brief because I have more important things to do than constantly argue with you and if you do not correct yourself this time and apologize, I will just start to ignore you.

            As I said last night, you’re welcome to respond or not respond to whomever you choose. You don’t need my permission.

            Yes, I understand the importance of fact checking and do as accurate a job as I can. As I stated, there was only one real error in the article which I already acknowledged and will try to get corrected tomorrow. You are trying to give the false impression that much of the article is wrong and that just is not true.

            As I said last night, I have no idea how much else is accurate. What I do know is that this is the first time you’ve accepted my correction, and only because I found an actual transfer that proved you wrong.

            The fact that free transfers largely came 13 years before I thought is important, but does not change the gist of the article that an irrational transfer system existed from before 1940 to 1997. I never said that the MTA was entirely responsible for that so don’t imply that I said that.

            What is “irrational” is in the eye of the beholder. Much of Europe has free transfers between subway and commuter rail but not between subway and bus. For example, Paris has free transfers between the RER and the Metro, and between one bus and another bus, but not between RER/Metro and a bus. London has free transfers, sometimes cross-platform(!), between National Rail and the Underground, but buses don’t offer transfers even to other buses let alone other modes. Are their transfer policies more or less rational than ours? It could be argued either way.
            Our current transfer policy doesn’t apply to any of the commuter rail systems (even the MTA-operated ones) or to PATH or to AirTrain. It doesn’t apply to Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, even though the S89 bus terminates at an HBLR station. The fare charged from Penn Station to Jamaica depends on whether you’re riding the E train or the LIRR, and even the fare medium from one system is worthless on the other.
            So I don’t personally see 1997 as a watershed year in transfer rationality. What we had in 1981 was quite rational: free transfers from any MTA-operated bus to any intersecting MTA-operated bus. The 1993 addition of transfers to and from privately operated buses was a nice addition, and the 1997 addition of subways was an extremely nice addition. But I don’t think they improved on the rationality – if anything, they raised new questions about why free intermodal transfers should apply to some modes but not others.

            I initially insisted your facts were wrong (and some were) because of the way you come across, constantly attacking trying to discredit everything I write unless I agree with you placing some blame on the politicians which is the only time you agreed with me on anything.

            You often insist my facts are wrong. The only thing that forced your about-face this time is that I had proof. I think you did a fine job of discrediting yourself, by insisting that I was wrong only for me to prove that I was right.
            Again, none of the facts in my initial response to you was wrong.

            Where did I say that they do? This is just another example of you changing what I said and trying to mislead. I just stated a fact that there were no free transfers between the private companies and between the privates and the MTA and that was after 1981 when you believe the entire problem with free transfers was solved. In Queens, this was a significant problem until MetroCard transfers provided for free transfers between virtually all bus routes except in a few cases where a round trip would be easy to make if allowed which you claim had no affect on bus transfers.

            Stop putting words in my mouth. I didn’t “believe the entire problem with free transfers was solved” in 1981. (I don’t believe the entire problem with free transfers has been solved yet!)
            Free transfers to and from private lines came in 1993, four years before MetroCard began handling transfers.

            Where did you accuse me of stating bus subway transfers began in 1994? Right here in your very first comment–
            “Your facts are just plain wrong. MaBSTOA had free transfers as far back as the 70′s or maybe the early 80′s, long before MetroCard. (And MetroCard transfers – which primarily added the ability to transfer between bus and subway – started in 1997, not 1994. There was a change in the transfer policy in 1993, however, allowing free transfers to private bus lines.)”
            By saying “not in 1994″, you are implying that I said bus subway transfers started in 1994 which I did not say so you are not “absolutely correct” as you wrongly stated.

            That isn’t what I was implying at all. I was questioning this statement of yours: “Two bus trips for one fare, everywhere, were not allowed until MetroCard was introduced in 1994.” In fact, MetroCard did not have any impact on transfer policy until 1997 (and MetroCards weren’t even accepted on buses until 1995). So why would you attribute a supposed 1994 change in transfer policy to the MetroCard system?

            The no transfers within 3/4 of a mile of a route’s terminus applied when the privately lines started offering free transfers in 1993 between companies and to the MTA routes. For example the Q35 offered no free transfers at its terminal stop to TA routes at the Flatbush Nostrand Junction. I happen to remember that. However, anything I state without a source that you do not recall, you consider untrue. I am not writing a thesis with footnotes that requires every fact be documented with references. Rather than accept it as true or finding a contradicting reference, you cite an inapplicable example with MaBSTOA routes when I never stated anywhere that the 3/4 rule applied between MaBSTOA routes or between MaBSTOA and NYCTA routes.
            Yet another example of your incorrect facts which you insist are 100% accurate, so yes you do owe me an apology. I gave you one when I was wrong, but you won’t do the same when you are wrong.

            Here I apologize. I misunderstood you and thought you were referring to all new transfers, including those instituted in 1981, but on rereading I see that you specifically spoke of private bus lines. I don’t know the details of private transfer policy, so I’ll assume that you were correct and I was not.

            (P.S. I will be out of town without internet access for a while soon.)

            Enjoy your trip. Are you going somewhere that has a transit system? A comparison to New York’s (perhaps on transfer policy!) might be interesting.

          • Allan Rosen

            First of all it is not first time I’ve accepted any of your corrections if any prior ones were valid.

            You say what is is irrational is in the eye of the beholder. Wouldn’t you agree that it was irrational for one route to transfer to one crosstown route but not to another when both routes are operated by the same entity for over 50 years? Well that was the gist of the article.  The problem was not corrected by the BMT, the Board of Transportation,  the NYCTA or the MTA for that period of time.  That was the heart of the article and that point is still valid despite the 13 year error I made.
            As far as the possible irrationality  in Paris, I would have to study more about the system to conclude one way or another.

            You can’t have it both ways stating what we had in 1981 was quite rational, and on the other hand also state 1997 wasn’t a watershed year, the year you were allowed to transfer for free virtually between any two buses without any fare penality and to the subway.  If you lived in Queens between those years, you would have felt the double fare much more than in the other boroughs.  One could also argue that with all the failed promises for subway extensions over the years, charging extra to transfer to a bus from the subway also was not rational.

            Finally, an apology.  Well thanks. Your problem is that when you read anything I write, rather than reading it objectively, you are so eager to find errors that you often misread what I write like you did in this case, and then pounce often eggagerating the extent of the error, or finding one when none exists.  You then try to insinuate that there are others, but you haven’t found them yet.  That is what I resent and putting words in my mouth which you often do, then you criticize me. When you stated that the private routes started giving transfers between companies in 1993, I accepted that year as fact without asking you for a reference to prove it.  Yes that is what you do regarding most anything I state.

            I don’t mind you finding an error.  In fact I appreciate it. But not when you exxagerate its importance to the article or try to hint that a good portion of the article is incorrect by starting with a statement like “Your facts are all wrong.” That type of accusation is just not acceptable.

            Yes there is a transit system where I am going, and if I learn anything interesting, I certainly will report on it.

          • Andrew

            First of all it is not first time I’ve accepted any of your corrections if any prior ones were valid.

            If?

            You say what is is irrational is in the eye of the beholder. Wouldn’t you agree that it was irrational for one route to transfer to one crosstown route but not to another when both routes are operated by the same entity for over 50 years? Well that was the gist of the article. The problem was not corrected by the BMT, the Board of Transportation, the NYCTA or the MTA for that period of time. That was the heart of the article and that point is still valid despite the 13 year error I made.

            And my point is that that irrationality was rectified in 1981.

            As far as the possible irrationality in Paris, I would have to study more about the system to conclude one way or another.

            I don’t think the Paris transfer policy is irrational at all. It’s more complete than ours in one way (Metro-RER transfers) and less complete in others (Metro-bus transfers). Personally, I think it’s quite irrational that it costs so much more to get from Penn Station to Jamaica by LIRR than by subway. Similarly, an unlimited cardholder at Atlantic Avenue who needs to go to Jamaica has to choose between taking a slow trip with a transfer (C to J) or paying $6.25 off-peak or $8.25 peak for a train ticket.

            You can’t have it both ways stating what we had in 1981 was quite rational, and on the other hand also state 1997 wasn’t a watershed year, the year you were allowed to transfer for free virtually between any two buses without any fare penality and to the subway. If you lived in Queens between those years, you would have felt the double fare much more than in the other boroughs. One could also argue that with all the failed promises for subway extensions over the years, charging extra to transfer to a bus from the subway also was not rational.

            Rationality is different from completeness! For the record, I have in the past had not only bus+subway commutes but bus+subway+bus commutes, so I understand quite well the improvement that bus-subway transfers brought.

            Finally, an apology. Well thanks. Your problem is that when you read anything I write, rather than reading it objectively, you are so eager to find errors that you often misread what I write like you did in this case, and then pounce often eggagerating the extent of the error, or finding one when none exists. You then try to insinuate that there are others, but you haven’t found them yet. That is what I resent and putting words in my mouth which you often do, then you criticize me. When you stated that the private routes started giving transfers between companies in 1993, I accepted that year as fact without asking you for a reference to prove it. Yes that is what you do regarding most anything I state.

            Oh? A few examples, please? I gladly apologize when I make a mistake.

            As for 1993, here’s where I found that date: http://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/21/nyregion/queens-commuters-gift-free-transfers-on-buses.html

            I don’t mind you finding an error. In fact I appreciate it. But not when you exxagerate its importance to the article or try to hint that a good portion of the article is incorrect by starting with a statement like “Your facts are all wrong.” That type of accusation is just not acceptable.

            This isn’t the first time I’ve caught blatant errors in your posts and comments (here’s a recent example). If I’ve repeatedly caught errors on the topics I happen to be familiar with, I get concerned that there are also errors on the topics I’m not familiar with.

            Yes there is a transit system where I am going, and if I learn anything interesting, I certainly will report on it.

            Thank you, and I look forward to your report.

      • NeckRoadWarrior

        Actually, using a full-fare card with eligible identification IS a perfectly valid way to pay; any token booth clerk will confirm that for you. Those eligible for half-fare are made to feel enough undeserved guilt for taking advantage of what they are entitled to, that there’s no need to infer this might be some obscure form of bucking the system. As for that link, it’s an abridged version of the fare policy; you’ll notice minutiae like the existence of things like Autogate Metrocards are not included in the body of it either.

        While there should be a solution that addresses this problem more definitively, such as the proposed RFID-based card, the current crux of the issue is that token booth clerks are supplied with these tickets while drivers are not. Since there is a reason booths will accept standard cards along with ID and then issue tickets, there is reason for drivers to be equally supplied. That is, until a better solution comes along.

        A number of the reasons I gave earlier explain why even varieties of EasyPay cards are not always a solution. Some of the people I worked with don’t have as regular a schedule or commute to justify automatic refills of their cards at the minimum fill amount, and do have budgets limited enough to deter them from applying.

        Being a Brooklyn-related blog, PATH is not foremost in most people’s minds unless they are unfortunate enough to have to make that commute. It’s certainly not something I hold the MTA’s policies against to determine if they are fair. However, I hope some New Jerseyans are equally as displeased with those options.

        • Andrew

          Actually, using a full-fare card with eligible identification IS a perfectly valid way to pay; any token booth clerk will confirm that for you.

          As I said myself, “nobody’s going to stop you from using a regular MetroCard on the subway and getting a return trip ticket, since the station agent has them on hand anyway.” But strictly speaking, it’s an unofficial courtesy, not an officially endorsed method of fare payment.

          Those eligible for half-fare are made to feel enough undeserved guilt for taking advantage of what they are entitled to, that there’s no need to infer this might be some obscure form of bucking the system.

          I didn’t imply anything of the sort! I was simply explaining why return trip tickets are available in the subway but not on the bus: namely, that the bus farebox directly accepts $1.10 in coins, obviating the need for a return trip ticket, while the subway fare infrastructure can’t directly accommodate payments of $1.10 in cash or coins.

          As for that link, it’s an abridged version of the fare policy; you’ll notice minutiae like the existence of things like Autogate Metrocards are not included in the body of it either.

          Everything on that page works with AutoGate MetroCards, which only add another way to enter a station. Everybody who receives an AutoGate MetroCard also receives instructions on how to use it. This page gives information to people who don’t have a special card, so why wouldn’t it include information on paying the reduced fare at a subway station with a regular MetroCard?

          While there should be a solution that addresses this problem more definitively, such as the proposed RFID-based card, the current crux of the issue is that token booth clerks are supplied with these tickets while drivers are not. Since there is a reason booths will accept standard cards along with ID and then issue tickets, there is reason for drivers to be equally supplied. That is, until a better solution comes along.

          I may not have been clear about my smartcard comment. What I meant is that I hope that the introduction of smartcards gets the MTA to rethink the way reduced fare cash payments are handled. There are serious problems with what’s out there now, that force people to travel in the wrong direction if they need to use or obtain a return trip ticket and the only booth is on the wrong side of the tracks.

          A number of the reasons I gave earlier explain why even varieties of EasyPay cards are not always a solution. Some of the people I worked with don’t have as regular a schedule or commute to justify automatic refills of their cards at the minimum fill amount, and do have budgets limited enough to deter them from applying.

          I agree, EasyPay cards aren’t for everyone – but I think a lot of people who would find them very useful don’t know about them. They’re not only for regular commuters.

          • NeckRoadWarrior

                “As I said myself, nobody’s going to stop you from using a regular MetroCard on the subway and getting a return trip ticket, since the station agent has them on hand anyway.” But strictly speaking, it’s an unofficial courtesy, not an officially endorsed method of fare payment.”

            Andrew, I read that, and replied above. I’m a little perplexed by the reiteration and self-quotation. It’s not as if repeating it makes it more true. Of course, if I could post the specific text that a booth clerk told me existed, I would, but I simply can’t.

                I didn’t imply anything of the sort!

            I was referring to the implication that acceptance of this method of fare payment was considered anything other than equal to other methods. It’s a moot point now, since you openly claim it’s an “an unofficial courtesy” and “not an officially endorsed method”. I know that to be untrue from speaking with MTA employees. If you can support that claim with some posted statement from the MTA, I would appreciate seeing it.

                Everything on that page works with AutoGate MetroCards…

            If you read my comment above, I presented that as an example of minutiae not included in the fare policies on that webpage. Varying forms of RFM might be something addressed when speaking of reduced-fare options. I could just as easily have cited the lack of mention regarding the non-transferable nature of such cards, or varying other fare policies regarding card resale vs. the selling of “swipes”.

            Just so you know, I didn’t come here to flex my academic muscle. I just wanted to raise a related issue few are aware of, and which should be addressed. I’m not trying to join the debate club here.

          • Andrew

            Andrew, I read that, and replied above. I’m a little perplexed by the reiteration and self-quotation. It’s not as if repeating it makes it more true. Of course, if I could post the specific text that a booth clerk told me existed, I would, but I simply can’t.

            Text? What text?

            I was referring to the implication that acceptance of this method of fare payment was considered anything other than equal to other methods. It’s a moot point now, since you openly claim it’s an “an unofficial courtesy” and “not an officially endorsed method”. I know that to be untrue from speaking with MTA employees. If you can support that claim with some posted statement from the MTA, I would appreciate seeing it.

            My posted statement is the description of RFM’s on the MTA website! I haven’t seen anything that contradicts it. (Unfortunately, the formal fare tariff doesn’t seem to be online…)

            If you read my comment above, I presented that as an example of minutiae not included in the fare policies on that webpage. Varying forms of RFM might be something addressed when speaking of reduced-fare options. I could just as easily have cited the lack of mention regarding the non-transferable nature of such cards, or varying other fare policies regarding card resale vs. the selling of “swipes”.

            But those are specific to people who already have RFM’s, who can be informed of any restrictions when they receive their cards. The web page is helpful to people who don’t have RFM’s, by telling them how they can pay their fares and by including a plug for the RFM option. If a regular MetroCard were (officially) an option for paying the reduced fare, it would have been included on the web page!

            Just so you know, I didn’t come here to flex my academic muscle. I just wanted to raise a related issue few are aware of, and which should be addressed. I’m not trying to join the debate club here.

            Nor am I – I was simply trying to answer your question. I don’t see this as a serious problem; I think I’ve touched on a fare more serious problem with the return ticket system. Feel free to reply, but it’s probably fair to agree to disagree at this point.

          • NeckRoadWarrior

                Text? What text?

            Whatever documentation the clerk was referring to. Again, I’d post from it verbatim if I had it. However, I’ll take (several) MTA employee statements that there is such documentation addressing this method of payment as being equal to others to be factual in the interim

                If a regular MetroCard were (officially) an option for paying the reduced fare, it would have been included on the web page!

            Aside from the examples I gave of general fare-related information excluded, you already admit to not being able to find an extended version of the fare policy online, as have I, so you know that everything “official” is not addressed on that basic page.

            However, even in a general way, that it is documented somehow does make sense to me, even had I not heard from MTA representatives stating so. It would seem odd if there were not some defined regulations regarding
            this matter, since MTA employees err on the side of caution when confronted
            with such critical decision-making as what constitutes a valid fare.

                I don’t see this as a serious problem; I think I’ve touched on a fare more serious problem with the return ticket system.

            I suppose one wouldn’t unless they were a member of the population affected, or those aiding them, which, admittedly, is small enough for some to neglect when forming policies, or to inform when it’s implemented.

          • Andrew

            Whatever documentation the clerk was referring to. Again, I’d post from it verbatim if I had it. However, I’ll take (several) MTA employee statements that there is such documentation addressing this method of payment as being equal to others to be factual in the interim

            I didn’t realize the clerk had specific documentation.

            As I said, I have no doubt that they will, in practice, allow people to pay that way. There’s little reason not to. They’ve probably even been instructed to do so by their supervisors. But that doesn’t mean that it’s included in the MTA’s formal fare policy.

            Aside from the examples I gave of general fare-related information excluded, you already admit to not being able to find an extended version of the fare policy online, as have I, so you know that everything “official” is not addressed on that basic page.

            The fare policy is formally defined in a fare tariff, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to be online. The fare tariff would definitively settle this issue once and for all. Without that, I’d go with the online information.

            But in any case, it’s clear that the only reason return trip tickets exist is because there’s no way for the subway system to accept a straightforward $1.10 payment without an RFM. Subway stations need to be stocked with return trip tickets, or else non-RFM holders would have no way of paying the reduced fare. Non-RFM holders have a (much easier) way of paying the reduced fare on buses.

            However, even in a general way, that it is documented somehow does make sense to me, even had I not heard from MTA representatives stating so. It would seem odd if there were not some defined regulations regarding
            this matter, since MTA employees err on the side of caution when confronted with such critical decision-making as what constitutes a valid fare.

            On the contrary, MTA employees often do whatever is necessary to avoid confrontation. There’s no need to object to this practice as an unofficial but mostly cost-free accommodation.

            Here’s a similar case. When SBS started up on the M15 (I don’t know about the Bx12), the MTA got a lot of complaints from people who paid at the SBS machine but then had to pay again (or use up their free transfer) on the local if it came first. Even though paper SBS receipts are technically not valid on the local, the MTA recognized the validity of the complaints and instructed local drivers to accept them anyway. (But don’t try to use your receipt on a different bus line entirely!) This unofficial policy, incidentally, makes it possible to transfer from SBS to the corresponding local without using up a MetroCard transfer.

            I suppose one wouldn’t unless they were a member of the population affected, or those aiding them, which, admittedly, is small enough for some to neglect when forming policies, or to inform when it’s implemented.

            I aid close family members who often have to ride the wrong way when they need to use or obtain return trip tickets, because at their local subway station there’s no booth on the northbound side. Thank you for dismissing their concern.

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  • Allan Rosen

    To Andrew: Yes “if”. Some were valid and some were not.

    Rationality different from completeness? Now you are splitting hairs.

    I agree with you on the irrationality of LIRR fares vs subway fares within the City. Not fixing that may be one of the MTA’s greatest failures since they were charged with coordinating a regional transit system. They have had over 40 years to fix that.

    Yes I sometimes make mistakes. We all do. But you blow them out of proportion.

    • Flatbush Depot

      IAWTP

    • Andrew

      Which of my factual corrections have not been valid? To cite a recent example (that I also cited yesterday), is it invalid to note that July 17 to July 26 is not three weeks?

      Rationality and completeness are very different things. A transfer policy that allows some bus-bus transfers but not others, based solely on history (not on geography or even operating agency), isn’t very rational. A transfer policy that allows no bus transfers at all is quite rational, even though I gather it’s not as complete as you (or I) would like.

      The only realistic way to consolidate commuter rail and subway fares between the same points is to institute zonal or distance-based fares. (I know you touch on this topic briefly in a more recent post – I’ll comment on it more thoroughly when I get a chance, possibly tonight.) The LIRR would never (and should never) charge $2.25 or less for the ride from Penn Station to Jamaica – their trains would become more crowded but they’d bring in less fare revenue. On the flip side, the current LIRR fare between Penn and Jamaica is absurdly high. The fare from Penn to Jamaica should be somewhere between $2.25 and $6.25, and that same fare should apply both by LIRR and by subway.

      I’ve already quoted Pat Moynihan: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” If my greatest shortcoming is that I overemphasize the facts, I can live with that.

      • Allan Rosen

        I have no time now to check on your corrections now. I just remember you starting to say that MaBSTOA had transfers in the 70sbefore you corrected your self and said may e it was the 80s. The July 17th remark was made in a comment, not an article. It’s not the same thing. People often make quick off the cuff remarks in comments that may not be correct. From memory I thought the blackout was longer. You corrected the remark and that was that. No big deal. As far as the 13 year error regarding the transfers, it was not that significant compared to the gist of the entire article that it took generations to get it correct. I submitted corrections to Ned for the record. I guess he hasn’t gotten it yet. You make big deals about nothing.

        • Andrew

          What I said, back on the 20th, was that “MaBSTOA had free transfers as far back as the 70′s or maybe the early 80′s, long before MetroCard.” Details are important to me, and if I’m not sure of an exact date, I use ranges (as I did here) or explicitly state that I’m not sure of the details. If I have the time, I do a bit of research and try to find the details.

          That goes for anything I write to share with a public audience, even a blog comment. If I had a vague recollection of a blackout that I thought lasted about three weeks, and I couldn’t find anything more definitive in a quick Google search, I might have said “I think the blackout lasted three weeks” or “Didn’t the blackout last three weeks?” – not “it took three weeks to get power fully restored.”

          Your article was full of details, most of which I personally know little about. I’d like to take them seriously, but seeing your attitude toward details, I’m afraid I can’t take anything you claim to be fact seriously without first checking elsewhere.

          Getting the details right is not, in my opinion, “big deals about nothing.” Details are important to me. I’m sorry they’re not important to you.

          • Allan Rosen

            Details are very important to me. Making mountains out of mole hills seem to very important for you. As I stated several times before. There was one mistake in the article, a 13 year mistake which was not crucial to the gist of the article. Yet you incorrectly stated “Your facts are just plain wrong” implying nothing in the article was correct. That was just untrue.

            Yet you keep stating that you never make off the cuff remarks without checking your facts. You came off attacking me trying to take away all my credibility which you did again in your last post and I don’t appreciate that.

          • Andrew

            A four-sentence comment is not a mountain. Your five-paragraph response, in which you accused me of getting the facts wrong, was.

            If details were important to you, you might have said something along the lines of “Thanks for the correction” or “Good catch” or even “Let me check that” or “Do you have a source?” – but instead you told me that my facts “are just plain wrong” and “are 100% wrong,” that you are “very careful in [your] wording,” that I’m “outright wrong.”

            And, frankly, in an article going back 72 years, I think 13 years is pretty significant. MaBSTOA didn’t have free transfers for its first 19 years, not its first 32 years, so you were off by “only” 68%.

          • Allan Rosen

            You can interpret anything the way you want to. The article was not mostly about MaBStOA but about the New York City transit system about fares so your 68% comment of yours is not significant.

            I’m not going to start with “Thanks for the correction” to someone whose first sentence is “Your facts are all wrong.” You obviously can only see something from one side. As I will repeat for one final time because I have no more time for this nonsense is that there only was one error which was not significant and it appears that Ned doesn’t even feel it is necessary to even correct. You can have the last word if you want to .

          • Andrew

            If you want to believe that this is the only error you’ve made, be my guest. I’ve spotted many, which makes me think that there are probably plenty more on topics I’m not personally familiar with.

            Ned includes the disclaimer that “our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work” at the end of each of your articles.

            If my greatest fault is attention to detail, that’s fine by me.

          • Allan Rosen

            I cannot let you have the last word as long as you continue to mislead. Ned places that disclaimers on all coumnists who give their opinions and do op Ed pieces, not just my articles. Check Neil Friedman’s articles. That disclaimer is traditional in the industry.

            You are continuing to give the false impression that I cannot be trusted and will continue to do that. Readers see who you are and I will no longer respond to you or waste my time with you unless I get a straightforward apology. Yes you see the trees but mis the forest.

          • Flatbush Depot

            Yes, with all due respect to Andrew, he really needs to chill..

          • Andrew

            I neither stated nor implied that Ned intended his disclaimer for your specifically. I am simply pointing out that Ned is under no obligation to make corrections on your behalf. If you want the facts to be represented correctly in your article, engage in fact-checking before you submit it.

            As I’ve said, this isn’t the first mistake you’ve made here, and I don’t think it will be the last. I’ll remind you, once again, that you insisted that I was wrong and that you were very careful in your wording – this comment of yours says it all. It was only after I proved you wrong that you admitted that maybe I was right but that your error wasn’t a big deal – a far cry from your earlier claim that you were very careful with your wording. I see nothing to apologize for.

            Readers can draw whatever conclusions they like.

          • Allan Rosen

            You never stated nor implied that Ned intended the disclaimer for me specifically? What are you smoking? That was exactly your intent. You stated that I make many and frequent errors. Therefore nothing I write can be trusted. And right after that you state that’s why Ned puts in that disclaimer. There is no other way to interpret what you wrote.

            If you go back and read the article now you will see that Ned made the appropriate corrections and how little had to be changed in an article that you stated “all your facts are wrong.”. There is no point having a conversation with you because all you do is mislead and double-talk denying statements you previously made. So from now on I will not have anything further to say to you and if you start attacking again rather than merely making corrections, you will be banned from this site. You have been warned.

          • Andrew

            You can infer what you’d like to infer, but please don’t tell me what my intent was. I was merely responding to your remark that “it appears that Ned doesn’t even feel it is necessary to even correct” your 1994 error by simply pointing out that he (rightfully) doesn’t deem it his responsibility to correct anybody’s errors. That’s all I ever intended.

            I see he’s made the corrections. It’s amazing how much of a difference a few small changes can make. While I don’t agree with all of your conclusions, I can’t argue with the facts as they’re presented now.

            All of my comments are archived here and on my Disqus profile, and I challenge you to find any time I’ve denied any statements I’ve made. I believe it’s Ned’s call, not yours, whether to ban a commenter, and I won’t lose any sleep if he chooses to ban me because I critique your posts.

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