Are you paying too much to ride Metro-North? Maybe.
As we slowly return to semi-regular commuting by commuter rail in Connecticut, ridership on Metro-North is about half of pre-COVID levels.
But however often you’re
taking the train these days, here are some money saving tips.
First tip: always buy your ticket before boarding the
train. Conductors can charge you a hefty
on-board surcharge up to $6.50 (but not for seniors) if you don’t have a
ticket. That’s a rookie mistake you’ll
only make once.
If you buy your ticket on the eTix app, be sure to activate your ticket before boarding the train, not when the conductor comes to collect your fare.
OFF-PEAK only fares remain in
effect on all trains, even at rush hour, through the end of this year. Yet the railroad is still selling peak
tickets, both on its eTix app
and its ticket machines. Why?
The railroad says it’s had
trouble reprogramming their 20-year-old ticket machines and app so they’ve been
relying on a PR campaign to alert travelers not to buy peak tickets. I think they’d hoped to get back to peak
fares long ago but now realize that’s not going to happen.
There are also TEN-TRIP
OFF-PEAK tickets for seniors, Medicare recipients and the disabled. All fares for those passengers are already
discounted 50%, a substantial savings.
Chances are good that
Metro-North may start selling 20 or 30-trip tickets in the new year, reflecting
the new reality that workers may not be commuting full time but still want a
Active duty members of the
military can also get a 25% fare break.
And students using the train to commute can also get a discount if they file
Students attending most Connecticut colleges and universities can also
take advantage of U-Pass
giving them free rides on buses and trains, but only within the state.
If you’re going between
intermediate stations, say from Bridgeport to Stamford, there are also
discounted fares, especially cheap if you’re only traveling within Connecticut.
If you’re really back to
full-time commuting, a MONTHLY TICKET is your best bet… a 48% discount on the regular
fares. Monthly pass sales used to
represent almost half of all ticket income (pre-COVID) but they’re only back to
about 17% of previous levels. One nice
bonus for monthly ticket holders:
through November 21st you can bring up to four other
passengers with you on weekends for only $1 each.
Need a refund for your unused
ticket? That will cost you $10 and must
be requested within 60 days of purchase.
You should also check to see
if your employer offers TransitChek where
you can buy up to $270 worth of train tickets using pre-tax dollars, a
substantial discount depending on your tax bracket.
Station parking can be
expensive but is free at most stations on nights and weekends. Check with your town to be sure.
Whatever your train riding
pattern, do your homework and you’ll save yourself some money. And, oh yes… don’t forget to wear a