After years of planning, people of New York City can finally bid farewell to the MetroCard.
MTA is catching up with London, Toronto, and Washington DC as they gear up to launch the new fare payment system in May 2019. The MetroCard will be traded in for mobile wallets or bank cards that will be launched along 4, 5, and 6 trains and across bus routes on Staten Island.
This is the first step in the new contactless payment system, which aims to replace the old system that has been around for 25 years with a high-tech and next-generation model.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesperson Jon Weinstein said in an interview with AM New York that the move to phase out the MetroCard is an example of the MTA's effort to make its systems at par with other payment methods around the world.
Furthermore, he added that the city of New York deserves a world-class system such as the new payment scheme.
Currently, the MTA is testing the fare readers, or "validators," and will begin the installment process this October. The modern collection machines will be put on the railings of Staten Island buses and in front of turnstiles in some Lexington Avenue line subway stations.
On its launch, the system will be at all gates along the line between Grand Central-42nd Street and Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center in Brooklyn and on all Staten Island local and express routes.
This 21st-century upgrade of the public transport system will enable riders to skip the long lines to load up their MetroCard and board trains and buses using a payment method that suits them best, whether it may be a smart card, through a mobile app, or tapping bank cards.
The swipeless fare method is being developed by Cubic Transportation Systems through a whopping $573 million contract. Cubic is also the operator of the MetroCard.
In an interview with NY Post, New York City Transit Riders Council head and MTA board member Andrew Albert said that the replacement of the MetroCard has been long overdue, as it limits what the MTA can do for subway and bus transactions.
Make no mistake: the MetroCards will not be eradicated until 2023. The system will also only be compatible with mobile wallets from Samsung, Apple, and Google once it's launched.
While the app is still in its development stage, the smart card is set to be released on February 2021 and will be available for purchase at any convenience stores and drugstores. To make it more accessible, it will be available in vending machines in 2022.
According to MTA President Patrick Foye, a lot of work is going into the app to give people a seamless customer service. He also said that the MTA will be reporting the app's progress as it is evolving.
The revamp of New York subway system will surely be a treat not only for its residents but also for tourists visiting the city that never sleeps.