Web Tickets — Easier? Or Not?

This is what happens when I try to buy a one-way ticket from Fairfield to Stamford online.

Fellow commuter Mary writes in with this observation:

“I wanted to travel between Fairfield and Stamford which costs slightly less the than the minimum required to purchase of $5 for a web ticket so I have to purchase the higher priced station ticket and add the time to purchase the ticket into my travel time. Why is that? Why discourage people from traveling to major cities in CT even if it costs less than you might expect – its a good thing its so low and should be advertised so that perhaps more folks would take the train instead of their car. That was my plan but now I will probably drive with a friend.”

To be honest, I’ve never tried to buy Metro-North tickets through the web before…call me crazy, but I’m suspicious of buying things through the mail and avoid it whenever I can. The difference, according to MTA’s web site, between a round-trip Fairfield-to-Stamford ticket is less than 50 cents: Buying at the station costs $4.50, and buying online costs $4.28. But that difference can quickly add up. And the trip is certainly than driving, when you factor in gas costs and parking fees (plus, all that wasted time spent driving around trying to find a parking space). Both Fairfield and Stamford have major advantages in that their train stations are right downtown, as well.

It’s a bummer that the MTA imposes that $5 minimum for buying tickets online. The only solution I can think of is to buy more than one ticket at a time online, so you can exceed that minimum. If you plan on taking a few trips to Stamford from Fairfield, this should work for you. But it’s not ideal, since you never know for sure if you’re going to take that second trip, and you wouldn’t want to waste the extra trip.