Dear MTA, Give My Wallet a Break

PHOTO COURTESY/ Unsplash Asael Peña

PHOTO COURTESY/ Unsplash Asael Peña

My first semester as a timid American southerner, going to Manhattan on the train was a privilege I had never considered to be possible. Suddenly, I had access to transport in a way I never had before – I never used public transportation until I came to the city. As a freshman, with more free time than ever, I took advantage of nearly every weekend to go explore the city. I know I am not the only college student coming into the city and suddenly giving her every extra penny I had. 

Now, as a senior, I am using the MTA for entirely different reasons than simply exploring. In lieu of better options, I take the bus to get groceries, to commute to work four days a week, to commute to school. This can very quickly wrack up to upwards of $10 a day on the busiest days – $10 that I, a poor college student with no financial support, really do not have. Instead of forcing students to forgo trips to enjoy the city they already pay so much for, college students should have the opportunity to get discounted MetroCards.

Currently, a single swipe on the metro is $2.75, while the weekly unlimited is $33 a week and the monthly unlimited is $127. A person must take public transport, whether the bus or subway, 47 times in a month to make the monthly card worth the cost. While that much money may not seem too detrimental to the full-time worker in the city, it is a daunting number to me, a student taking 18 credits  who doesn’t have the time for a full time job. I have babysat some to try and supplement some of my draining bank account. However, between my groceries, rent in Brooklyn and other necessary purchases, my Chase account is not a pretty sight at the end of the month. If New York State, which manages the MTA, would drop the cost of the monthly unlimited card to just $100, or approximately 30% for college students, students would be more likely to purchase it instead of forgoing their travels or, to the dismay of the city, hopping the turnstile and paying nothing. Students K-12 get discounts on their MetroCards. It would not be that huge of a leap to extend that for four more years of undergraduate school.

When I was a freshman, with no bills to pay and $35 a week from my dad being deposited in my account, I never understood why people hopped the turnstile. Now, it makes sense. New York City is expensive enough – why not give the students who come in and feed your economy a break?