New York City to Replace MetroCard with Contactless System that Supports Apple Pay and Android Pay

By Anna Breuer on 23 October 2017
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A subway turnstile in New York

A subway turnstile in New York

New York City announced plans Monday to modernize the system passengers use to pay for public transport by replacing the MetroCard with one that is based on the contactless payment card system used on buses and the London Underground in London.

Portions of the new system will go into effect next year and will allow subway and bus riders to pay for their rides by waving their mobile phones or contactless credit cards at subway turnstiles and bus fareboxes.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the city’s public transport system, approved a $573 million contract for the new system, which will be similar to the one that has been in use since 2015 on the Tube and that city’s commuter railroads. The city will install 500 new NFC-based electronic readers in subway turnstiles and 600 in bus fareboxes and the conversion will be completed by late 2020.

“It’s the next step in bringing us into the 21st century, which we need to do,” said Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the MTA.

The new technology will free many commuters from having to stand on line and refill their MetroCards on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. While the MTA does offer a refillable card now, the Easy Pay MetroCard, it hasn’t become as popular as had been hoped and the new system will offer more features that should appeal to riders by including support for Apple Pay and Android Pay.

In October 2016, the MTA introduced the eTix app that allows travelers to purchase one-way, round-trip, ten-trip, weekly, and monthly e-tickets for travel on its two commuter railroads, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North. The new system will supplant that as well.

When the first subway began operations in New York, paper tickets cost five cents. The city discontinued paper tickets with the introduction of the turnstile, which required the insertion of a nickel and, starting in 1948, a dime. The once ubiquitous subway token was introduced in 1953, when fares rose to 15 cents. Tokens were phased out in 2003 in favor of the MetroCard, which had been introduced in 1994.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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