By Jill Colvin
MIDTOWN — For cash-strapped strap-hangers considering hoarding MetroCards before the fare hike goes into effect, the MTA has a message: don't bother.
While riders will be given a grace period in which they can activate unlimited MetroCards purchased before fares jump on Dec. 30, the old cards will stop working shortly after that date.
"They’ll have a period of weeks in which the card will remain valid for its first swipe," said MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan.
The MTA passed the controversial proposal to raise bus and subway fares Thursday to bridge a budget deficit, bringing the price of a 30-day unlimited MetroCard to a whopping $104, despite massive opposition.
While the exact cut-off date has not yet been set, Donovan said it will be sometime in mid-January, less than 30 days after the jump. Riders who have not activated old cards by that date will be able to get a refund, he said.
But that doesn’t mean that riders aren’t finding other ways to beat the fares.
Student Joel Lucca, 20, who lives in the Bronx, said he's considering buying a car, since the cost of gas would be cheaper than his commute each day.
Chris Lark, 34, a computer technician who lives in East Harlem, said he's planning on driving more or riding his bike instead of the train to save cash.
"It makes no sense," he said of the hikes.
Others, like Randy Moses, 45, a pharmacy technician who lives in West Harlem, hope the MTA will change its mind.
"I don't have a choice. I have to go to work," he said.
New Jersey resident Kahabra Aziz, 34, who works at a homeless shelter in the city, agreed.
"It sucks. It really sucks terribly," he complained. "There's really no way around it."
But Washington Heights student Carlos Oveli, 20, has another solution.
"My way of doing it if I'm really tight? I just slip in there when they're not looking," he said.