After doing the analysis and proving to myself that it would be better for me to pay per ride rather than get the unlimited monthly pass, I started putting the wheels in motion to transition and am happy to report I'm officially paying per ride for the subway now. Here's how I did it.
Step 1: Stop Monthly Pass Order
Since I order my pass through WageWorks, I went there first to cancel my monthly subway order. Be aware that there is some lead time required. I submitted my cancellation in mid-March, but that was too late to stop my April pass, so it would be May before I would pay per ride.
Step 2: Fund Commuter Benefits Card
Once you stop your monthly pass, you'll need money to pay for your subway rides and ideally, you'd use pre-tax dollars to pay for your rides. To do this, you'll want to fund your Commuter Benefits card (if available to you) with some amount of money each month. I now add $100 a month to the card.
Step 3: Get EasyPay MetroCard
One of the drawbacks of paying per ride is having to potentially refill your card every once in a while at the subway station, which sounds really annoying and time-consuming.
But there is a way to get a pay per ride card that automatically refills itself. Enter the EasyPay MetroCard.
The way the card works is you start by funding the card with $30 online. You're able to take advantage of the 5% purchase bonus, so you'll end up having a card with $31.50. Every time the card balance goes below $20, the card automatically adds another $30 to the balance using your credit card on file, so you never have to refill the card at the station.
To get the card, fill out this application and submit it online. Set the credit card to your Commuter Benefits card so you can still use pre-tax dollars toward your subway needs. Do this at the same time you cancel your monthly pass because it takes approximately three weeks to actually get your EasyPay MetroCard in the mail.
Step 4: Reap the Benefits of Transportation Freedom
It makes me feel good every time I use my subway card knowing I'm utilizing the optimal payment method. In addition, I no longer have to feel guilty or locked into taking the subway vs. using other modes of transportation. This is especially helpful on really hot or cold days or on days when I just feel like being a little less "active."
When it's 90 degrees outside and probably feels like 105 degrees in the subway or when the subway is delayed or having signal problems, I'll just take a Via home from work.
For those unfamiliar with Via, it's a ride-sharing app that allows you to go most everywhere in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn for $5. If you'd like to try it out, download the app and use code "roger7z9" to get $10 of ride credit, which is good for two free rides! I like using it, especially going crosstown, when an Uber or UberPOOL would be much more expensive.