Whenever possible I plan my trip in a way that allows me to do what I need to maximize my $2.75 Metrocard fare.
That means using my transfer within two hours of the start of my trip. Running an errand. Going to the gym. Buying groceries. Going to lunch. If it’s something I can get done within the MTA transfer time (including transit time to get there), I’ll do my damnedest to make sure I get my free transfer dammit.
You should too. The MTA is a good deal when you consider where it can take you in the city, but it can be an even better deal if you can use your transfer to get home, too. Just make sure you know all the transfer rules for your regular Metrocard (pay-per-ride). Here’s the transfer guidelines that you need to know:
- You can transfer from MTA subway to bus (but not bus to subway)
- You can transfer bus to bus (but not the same bus route)
- There are specific bus routes where you can’t use your transfer:
- downtown Fifth Av and uptown Madison Av buses (M1, M2, M3, M4)
- downtown Lexington Av and uptown Third Av buses (M101, M102, M103)
- southbound and northbound Grand Concourse buses (Bx1 and Bx2)
- M31 and M57 (transfers are permitted from westbound M31 to westbound M57, and
- from eastbound M57 to eastbound M31)
- M96 and M106
- Bx40 and Bx42
For regular Metrocards (not unlimited or passes), the “no transfers to the bus route on which you started” rule really cost me. I don’t know how much money I wasted thinking that I could use my transfer on the same bus route before finally figuring out that a transfer won’t work on the same bus route (e.g. M14D to M14D) — no matter if your transfer is going the opposite direction in which you started your trip.
For further clarification, here’s more fun restrictions on the back of the MTA Metrocard transfer:
MAY BE USED ONLY BY PASSENGER TO WHOM ISSUED.
Exceptions may apply subject to applicable tariffs and conditions of use.
This transfer is valid only:
On other bus route
Within two hours of issue (time of issue shown above)
This transfer is not valid for
Entry to subway
Trip on same route transfer was issued (route shown above)
Keep dry. Do not fold.
Of course, the whole “taking the same bus isn’t a transfer” all makes sense now. After thinking it through, using your transfer for the same bus route isn’t a “transfer” by any definition. That was a costly lesson (USE YOUR BRAIN, STUART!)