|For immediate release:||For more information, contact:
|Tuesday, April 13, 1999||Joseph G. Rappaport at (212) 349-6460
COUNCIL SPEAKER VALLONE, GROUP
RENEW CALL FOR SELLING $4 PASS AT TOKEN BOOTHS
CHALLENGE TO MTA: RELEASE DATA ON HOW PASSES ARE SELLING
The Fun Pass is a pain to find, according to a survey released today by NYPIRG's Straphangers Campaign.
The survey, conducted in late February and March, found that the $4 unlimited-ride MetroCard one-day Fun Pass was not for sale at 55% of 111 randomly chosen Manhattan merchants the group visited. (See attached lists and chart.)
The group joined City Council Speaker Peter Vallone in calling on the MTA to sell the $4 Fun Pass--intended to offer riders a day's worth of unlimited bus and subway trips--at all 468 stations in the subway system. The MTA started offering the Fun Pass on New Year's Day, the latest piece of its plan to sell discounts to city transit riders.
"The $4 Fun Pass is so hard to track down, the MTA should rename it the 'No Fun' pass," said campaign coordinator Joseph G. Rappaport. "There's a simple solution: sell the Fun Pass at the system's 468 subway stations," he said.
At 33% of the sites visited, surveyors were told that the outlet does not carry the pass; 15% of the merchants said they were out of stock. Another 7% of the sites were either out of business; couldn't be located; or closed in three visits during the merchant's stated business hours. Forty-five per cent (45%) had the pass available. (See Fun Pass Available and No Fun Pass.
The 111 outlets surveyed were selected randomly by computer from the MTA's "$4 Fun Pass MetroCard Merchants" list on its official website. The MTA website lists 692 locations in Manhattan and 2,489 locations in the four boroughs served by the subway system as Fun Pass merchants.
Some merchants told surveyors that they had never carried the pass, while others were enthusiastic boosters who said the card attracted customers. Merchants surveyed included a mix of newsstands, supermarkets, hotels, drugstores, check-cashing outlets--and even one drug and alcohol treatment center (listed by transit officials as carrying the Fun Pass; it does not.)
In December, MTA board members appointed by Mayor Giuliani won approval in committee for a plan to sell the Fun Pass at all token booths, but the full MTA board rejected the proposal.
At the time, MTA New York City Transit President Lawrence Reuter said that the authority feared that selling the card in the system would create long token booth lines.
Reuter reassured board members that the merchant distribution system would fill the gap until vending machines that sell the daily pass were installed in stations over the next several years.
Board members said they worried about the financial impact, but New York City Transit had already assumed a $55 million cost for the pass in its 1999 budget.
"We're pleased to join with City Council Speaker Vallone in making a common-sense proposal to get the passes for sale in token booths, where they belong," said Rappaport at a City Hall news conference.
The campaign also challenged transit officials to release data on how many Fun Passes have been sold and used to date. Officials had predicted that the Fun Pass would gain 11% of the transit market in 1999. But they have not released any of the extensive data they maintain on the daily pass sales and use.