In early December 1997, former New York City Governor George E. Pataki introduced a number of unlimited metrocards, which included the “Fun Pass.” The “Fun Pass” was a 1-day unlimited card that let straphangers ride all throughout New York City for one price, 4 dollars. Initially, the Fun Pass was only sold at stations that were tourist destinations, until it was expanded as an option for all New Yorkers. Over the years, the price of the Fun Pass was eventually hiked, until it was discontinued in 2010.
The MTA eliminated the Fun Pass due to New Yorkers that used the card to sell swipes at stations. Swipe sellers bought them in bulk: “they don’t have to re-use any of them more than once every 18 minutes—the time lag the cards are programmed for. Over the course of a day, each one could be used dozens of times, at great profit to the scammer, while the MTA only receives the $8.25 face value of the card.”
Despite the MTA’s claims that the Fun Pass “scams” led to loss in revenue, the Fun Pass was an affordable daily unlimited card that helped many New Yorkers travel at an affordable price. Its removal as an unlimited option was a loss to many working-class New Yorkers.
Although selling swipes are illegal, simply swiping a fellow New Yorker on is not, BUT there is a loophole. You cannot be caught asking for a swipe. NYPD may hit you with fines up to $50 if you are caught asking to swiped onto the MTA. If you see someone that looks like they may need to board, offering to swipe them on is a nice, courteous gesture.
Since the MTA introduced the Metrocard in 1993, the MTA has collaborated with several artists and brands to create limited edition cards. These cards are usually sold at select stations with limited quantities. In the past few years, MTA has released limited edition cards in collaboration with Supreme, Game of Thrones, Wu Tang Clan, David Bowie, and Paul McCartney. On May 21, 2022, the MTA released a limited edition metrocard to commemorate the 50th birthday of rapper, the Notorious B.I.G. Only 50,000 cards were made and were sold at select stations. Limited edition cards are considered collectables which are resold online from anywhere between $100 to $5,000. Let’s just say it is very profitable.