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March 23, 2012


You're probably right about future time orientation, but I can't help but wonder if there's something else going on...do NAMs commute less or something? Maybe they don't have jobs and hence a 30-day doesn't pay?

I am white, live in Park Slope, smart and well-educated, and always buy the individual rides because I mostly drive (I work in Queens), and I could never justify the 30 day card.

This wouldn't work in London because one "community" doesn't seem to pay at all, by any means. Or so I am told.

I don't know much about NYC. Do blacks have a reasonable expectation of riding for free? Here in the Bay Area, blacks ride BART for free (since the station agents are 90% black and obviously won't interfere). They also expect to ride SF Muni for free. About a year ago I watched a young black girl curse out an asian driver for making her pay. And then there was the young black man who didn't pay, got stopped by undercover bus cops, then got shot when he fought them (because he had an outstanding felonty warrant). On the Marin County bus system, the scam is that blacks get disability cards for being "mentally handicapped."

Other subtleties appear. For instance, Ft. Hamilton Parkway, 50 Street and 55 Street on the West End (D) Line all have a high percentage of pay-per-ride usage yet are in a largely white neighborhood. There's a fairly obvious explanation: the stations serve a heavily Hasidic neighborhood, Borough Park, and the Hasidim who commute to jobs in Manhattan often use private bus lines.

uh...maybe the people buying single ride tickets don't have steady jobs to go to.

avg 21 working days in 1 month * $2.25 * 2 = $94.50

But you only need to put around $88 on a card to get that amount due to the 7% bonus.

So you essentially shell out an extra $16 a month for the unlimited to get any other rides you want to take on the weekends, on the way home etc.

I'm sure affected NAMs are not taking full advantage as they should (which is your point), but it's not always a better deal to buy the unlimited.

@ smead jolley:
I've never heard of any expectation that minorities can ride for free on the NYC system. Station agents, who are mostly minority, don't really do much of anything when they see people jumping turnstiles except shout "pay your fare!" over the PA. They don't normally summon the police.
While it's hard to come up with reliable statistics, it's my understanding that turnstile jumping isn't a serious problem except at a relatively small number of stations. It does contribute to better law enforcement, however. While fare evasion isn't a serious offense, when the police catch evaders they check for warrants and search the evaders for drugs and weapons, and this has gotten many serious criminals off the streets.

Chucho lays out the figures. Its not a "lack of future time orientation" thing, its more of a "able to do cost analysis" thing, added to the fact that most people in the poorer parts of the city don't have jobs to go to.

If you have a normal five days a week job, you at least break even on the unlimited metrocard, you just need to use it for one round trip each weekend. If you don't, you are probably better off without it, though it depends. Many outer borough neighborhoods are quasi-suburban, people tend to stay in their neighborhood, don't make many trips "to the city", and/ or have cars. I live in Midtown Manhattan and am basically using a subway or bus anytime I leave the apartment. So its a combination of no regular job plus not having much other reason to go somewhere.

You're probably correct. Neighborhoods that are more NAM and less White/Asian have fewer people working regular jobs (e.g., the South Bronx, or apparently much of the Bronx according to this map).

Of course, the current pricing scheme of the unlimited cards only makes them a good buy if you ride a lot in addition to your commute trips. If not, you are better off with the pay-per-ride cards. That aspect would be more a measure of general wealth than future-time orientation (however, those things are correlated).

Not everyone who buys a 30-day Metrocard uses it solely for commuting into Manhattan on the subway. Metrocards also can be used on buses, so a 30-day might be a better deal than pay-per-ride for a person who doesn't commute but does a fair amount of local travel.

I would imagine that may be the case with many of the 30-day buyers in Flushing, as most Manhattan commuters in that 'hood would use the LIRR (more expensive but faster than the 7 train).

Might be a more general point, but making long term investments is not necessarily driven only in a positive direction by more future time orientation.

Takes a future time orientation to realize there might be something around next week that means you don't want all your capital tied up in the investments that are around now.

Future time orientation can equal "scared of commitment". Think about how many intelligent people are unwilling to marry or settle down. Sometimes seems like it's as Western youth have become more aware of the brevity of life that they have become more hedonistic. If you have enough future time orientation (effective cognition about the future) to realise you'll be old and shrivelled in 10 years, you're more likely to get your thrills today, because you'll realise that you'll know what you missed out on in future, and that your life will be negatively impacted (or you'll die without having done what you want to). Like people with a high future orientation spend today when the currency is rapidly deflating and the economy is contracting.

Deferring pleasure and deferring spending and committing for long times today are not the only kinds of future time orientation.

That's only the case if you see commitments you make now as better than ones you might make in the future and pleasures in the future as worth more than pleasures today.

The map is, however, despite the many also good interpretations of the results, ...

Very pretty.

This is pretty interesting, although be careful: here in London I take the tube every day into work, but rarely travel at the weekends, and it actually works out cheaper for me to use a pay-as-you-go Oyster card, rather than a 30-day one.

I don't buy unlimited monthly cards because I don't use the MTA enought to make it economical. Most of my coworkers ALWAYS buy the monthly, even if they don't use it enough to be worthwhile; the reasons are 1) they can't or don't do math, and 2) they like the idea of being taken care of, the luxury of being able to hop on the subway anytime without a thought. They are leftist democrats who want Obamacare, which in their view means they will be taken care of, everything included. Many of them owe vast amounts on their credit card bills. I don't think time preference explains it.

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