New digital payment system will start replacing MetroCards in 2019, MTA says

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Billie Grace Ward

The MTA board on Wednesday voted to approve a contract with a company that will transform the way straphangers pay for MetroCards and other tickets.

Cubic  Transportation Systems, which has also designed and built a similar system in London, will head the transition away from MetroCards, which were first introduced in 1994.

The change will be rolled out within phases and the MetroCard will still be available for use until 2023. Starting in 2019, a total of 500 subway turnstiles and 600 buses will have the new payment system installed.

Straphangers will use a mobile wallet like Apple Pay or tap a bank card at turnstiles or on buses. As part of the design, Cubic Transportation Systems will also test payment options for all-door boarding on SBS buses to reduce lines.

Customers who take the Long Island Rail Road or Metro-North will be able to integrate their subway, bus and rail tickets in one system.

For customers who do not want to use a phone or bank card, there will be an option to purchase contactless transit cards from new vending machines and through an out-of-system retail network.

“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. “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.”

The MetroCard will not be phased out until the new system is fully operational.

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