Have you ever seen folks standing by the Metrocard reader (the one that tells you how much is on the card, not the turnstile) just swiping card after card from a big pile. That’s because a lot of times people end up with a random chunk of spare change on their card, but end up throwing it away instead of refilling.
A group of students, Stepan Boltalin, Genevieve Hoffman and Paul May, from NYU’s ITP created a prototype for a system called MetroChange that lets straphangers donate that left over fare to charity. The trio points out that every year $52 million is lost on Metrocards people throw away. The problem has gotten so bad the MTA is introducing a $1 replacement fee in the new year.
The kiosk the group created also doubles as a recycling container for the depleted Metrocards. The group is looking for a partner, either the city or a charitable organization, to help them process the payments.
Here’s a video demonstration of how the MetroChange system might work. Thanks to Alexis Madrigal for spotting the project.