The MTA is about to launch the test phase of a contactless payment system in the New York City subway and bus system, with New York being one of first cities in the United States to implement this technology. We found the test units, a sleeker upgrade from an earlier scanner we saw being tested at Wall Street, at the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall subway station that services the 4/5/6 and J/Z lines. The units, which currently display “TEST PHASE COMING SOON” with the contactless symbol, are made by Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc., which was behind a similar technology for the London Tube. Cubic also designed the MetroCard system in 1992. When ready, transit-goers can use either a contactless credit or debit card, or a mobile wallet like Apple Pay, and eventually, a contactless transit card that will replace the MetroCard.

The new contactless system will be phased in, with the first testing along the Lexington Avenue 4/5/6 line and the Staten Island bus system this month. This year, it is planned that 500 subway turnstiles and 600 buses will get the contactless technology upgrade but the MetroCard will be in use until 2023. The MTA says that “The MetroCard will not be retired until the new system is fully tested and operational.

Contactless payment will speed up boarding of the SBS bus system, long criticized for not having enough of the elements of a true bus rapid transit system, and will integrate with Long Island Railroad and Metro-North. Customers will also be able to manage their account through web and mobile.

You will be able to see these units on the route of our upcoming Underground Tour of the NYC Subway, which will reveal many hidden histories and locations along the 4/5/6 line:

Underground Tour of the NYC Subway

Next, check out the Top 20 Secrets of the NYC Subway.