Closeup of MTA turnstile

Weekend round-up

Some stories you may have missed last week: MTA budget shows $80 million in unused MetroCard value, two NY legislators want to decriminalize turnstile jumping, and Hyperloop One achieves speed milestone.

Once again, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (NY) is sitting on a lot of change.  Last year the authority realized nearly $80 million in excess MetroCard value — either from people who lost their cards or forgot about small balances remaining on the card.  And it’s easy to forget those small balances.  MTA gives customers a 5% bonus for each $5.50 round trip loaded on to a pay-as-you-go MetroCard — which amounts to 28 cents.  “There’s a sort of opaque, obtuse system in terms of what you’re getting on your card,” said Jon Orcutt, director of advocacy at TransitCenter. “You get these oddball remainders that just don’t get you anything, so you tend to ignore them.”  The surplus — which the MTA calls “fare media liability” in its budget documents — contributed to an overall total of $4.4 billion in fare revenue last year.  Link to full story in New York Daily News.

And speaking of MTA fares, two New York state legislators want to decriminalize subway fare evasion. Turnstile jumping is currently considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail. “No one should face the nightmare of arrest, a criminal record, loss of housing, or deportation over fare evasion,” said state senator Jesse Hamilton, one of the bill’s sponsors, at a press conference. Under the law, fare evasion would be considered a civil offense subject to a $100 fine; immigration status would not be affected. Link to full story in CityLab.

Hyperloop One achieved a milestone at its Nevada test track late last month.  On July 29, the passenger pod (sans passengers) traveled through a 500-meter pressurized tube, reaching a top speed of 192 miles per hour. The test included a 300 meter acceleration phase, after which the pod gradually came to a stop. Link to full story in The Verge.

Photo credit: Susan Mara Bregman

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