I used to work for the company that made the Metrocard system. Here are some facts for you.

  • With the sheer volume of passengers, your card will be buried in the data pile.

  • It is possible, however, that if someone wanted to track you, they could. This would take an astounding volume of man-hours and a lot of computer time. It's cheaper to have some schmuck tail you or bug your shoe. (You did check your left shoe today, didn't you?)

  • Your normal Metrocard is not tied to a name. Buy three with cash, and use them randomly if you're uber-paranoid.

  • Contactless smart cards can be tied to a name, depending on how they set the system up. Right now, it is not, but it can be. Normally contactless smart cards are sold by actual people. Stick to the polyester mag-stripers to keep Them from tracking you.

  • 98% of the folks using the Metrocard don't give two rat turds worth of concern for the possibility of being tracked.

  • The 2% who have cause to worry should look over their shoulder, check their shoes and sweep for bugs daily, because if one of Them wants to track you, it won't be by the use of a Metrocard. Who cares that you go from one station to another? It's your final destination that they're interested in.

  • When the Station Computer uploads the revenue, traffic, and status data collected from the station equipment to the Central Computer, the only thing that concerns the paranoid passenger is that only the card identification and transaction amount is recorded. This way, you couldn't take a Metrocard worth $20, ride for a day and then try to get reimbursed the $20. It is an anti-fraud system only, not a tracking device. The only way someone will even know what information is on the card is to swipe it on a porta-reader. If someone does that, then you can be paranoid and get a new one. Even better, give it to a bum and have Them chase him.

Honestly, it's not worth the time and effort. You can build a blip tracker for three bucks in parts, so why bother spending big bucks just to track you from train to train to bus? The system for anti-fraud is amazing, and I can see why it hasn't been 0Wn3d yet.