January 10, 2012

By: Victoria Holliday

Each year New York City accumulates $52 million of unused MetroCard fees. That’s $52 million riders have given the MTA that essential goes unused. The flimsy plastic MetroCards are often trashed or forgotten when their balance runs below the value of a ride.

Now a new project is seeking to ensure that these transit fares do not go to waste. The proposed MetroChange program would allow subway riders to donate spare change and balances on MetroCards to nonprofits. Under the proposal created by NYU students, MetroChange would establish kiosks in busy train stations where riders could donate their card’s balance with a push of a button. These kiosks would be similar to add value machines, instead they would read a card’s remaining balance and then allow users to donate the balance. Even better, they then recycle the donated cards.

At the end of the month, MetroChange would gather the donations and donate them to a local charity. MetroChange hopes to target tourists who often incur unused balances while visiting New York. Before the idea becomes a reality, MetroChange needs to partner with the MTA to get the program running and find interested partners.

Crowdfunding For Charity In San Francisco

A similar program exists in the Bay Area for BART. Riders can donate unused portions of “tiny tickets” to local nonprofits. For more information about donating BART tickets, visit the East Bay Community Foundation.

These projects highlight the power of crowdfunding. Individually, random balance amounts valued at less than a subway ride are basically useless. But when pooled together, all those small balances can add up to big change.

Please consider making a donation today.