Metrocards and Math

I work from home, mostly, so I don’t usually need an unlimited metrocard. Every time the MTA changes the prices on evertyhing I have to go through and write another stupid spreadsheet to figure out what costs what. And I hate the fact that when you buy a 10$ or 20$ or 8$ metrocard, you get a number of rides and some stupid amount of money left over. I was actually juggling 5 different metrocards a few weeks back, each with slightly different amounts on them. Just stupid.

So I finally gave in and made a Web site about Metrocard Math. It has a thing where you can experiment with what-if scenarios about fare hikes and stuff (it’s kinda like a javascript spreadsheet). The interesting thing I found was this: $9.78. Buy a metrocard for that much and you will have exactly 5 rides, with no money left over. Of course, if you’re buying your metrocard via Credit Card, they won’t let you use an amount less than 10$, so you have to use the next magic number: $11.74.

I was thinking I might put in something about the proposed ‘cap’ that the MTA is talking about doing for their unlimiteds, I just don’t know what to do with it. I guess “maximal theoretical value” I can do? Or you can just look at the number and compare to ‘rides needed to beat pay-per-ride’…

As an aside, the site looks like absolute shit. I still am the worst web designer in the known universe. But I don’t mind much, the only thing I do mind is that it is hard to read on an iPhone. And that’s usually when I want the damned site – when I’m trying to get on the N train, my metrocard has run out, and I forgot the Magic Number. Anyways, I experimented with keeping the presentation, content, and behavior all separate (and yet all inline on the page). If I ever get to styling it, it’ll be interesting to see how I can do that. For instance, especially on the iPhone, the disabled fields don’t look very different from the enabled ones. I don’t remember if in CSS3 though you can specify a style of a disabled field – but I would have to imagine that you can, right? Well, when I next feel like poking at it, maybe if I add in ‘swipe-cap’ support like the MTA is proposing, I might try and throw some iphone-specific styling on there to make it useful for me (the only time I actually use it, in fact).

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