New York, we have only five more years to use the plastic MetroCards we’ve been using since the 1990s. The MTA will be replacing the MetroCard with new electronic readers, allowing for a pay-as-you go system. Cubic Transportation Systems, who helped the MTA transition from tokens to the current MetroCard, has been awarded the $573 million contract to implement the new electronic system.
According to an MTA press release, these new readers will be installed at 500 subway turnstiles and 600 buses by 2019, however, the MetroCard will not be retired until 2023, when then new system has been fully tested and operational.
Rendering of new turnstiles. Image via PR Newswire
The electronic system will work similarly to Apple Pay, letting subway riders use a mobile wallet or tap a contactless bank card at subway turnstiles and buses. It will also let LIRR and Metro-North riders merge their subway, bus, and rail tickets into one integrated form of payment.
When we initially posted about the testing of a new fare system, we noted on all your Facebook comments concerns raised about those who don’t have smart phones. Apparently, New York’s grievances have been heard and CTS’s new system will allow those who do not have or want to use a smartphone or contactless bank card, to purchase and reload contactless transit cards from new vending machines.
The MTA is also trying to reduce the lines New Yorkers endure when it comes to refilling MetroCards at crowded stations by including options to manage payment of fares via the web or mobile.
“The move to a truly 21st century method of payment represents a critical step in our overall efforts at modernizing the subway system and improving service for all our customers,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota in a statement. “The subway, bus and commuter rail network is the lifeblood of our regional economy and major upgrades like this help make the system more convenient and efficient for the millions of New Yorkers who use it every day.”
If you’ve grown accustomed to the MetroCard and wish to use your newly acquired swiping skills, the MetroCard can be used until 2023.