New York City Introduces OMNY Contactless Fare Collection System with Apple Pay Support

By Anna Breuer on 24 February 2019
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New OMNY fare reader next to MetroCard reader

New OMNY fare reader next to MetroCard reader

New York City will soon offer riders of its transit systems the option to pay with contactless systems such as Apple Pay and Android Pay as well as the city’s MetroCard replacement, OMNY.

The city’s transit system is the largest in North America and its metro system has the most stops in the world.

OMNY, which is short for One Metro New York, features a contactless fare collection system similar to those in use in other major cities. The new tap-and-go system is in trial now by employees of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates the city’s subways, buses, and commuter railroads.

“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.

Starting in May, those accessing the system on the subway’s 4, 5, an 6 lines between Grand Central Terminal and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn as well as on all Staten Island buses will be able to use OMNY.

At launch, OMNY will only support pay-per-ride fares and no advance purchase is required. As the MTA rolls it out, OMNY will support reduced fares and time-based passes similar to what is available now.

OMNY will first be available on subways and buses and then on commuter rail lines. 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. The city plans to eliminate MetroCard readers once the OMNY system is fully operational.

New York will join Los Angeles, which is in the process of installing its own contactless payment system, as well as Chicago, which offers riders the Ventra card, a play on the Latin word for “wind” and the city’s “Windy City” nickname, London, which offers the Oyster card, named for the Thames River’s once flourishing oyster beds, and the Boston T’s Charlie Card, named after the mythical character Charlie in the Kingston Trio’s song popularly known as “Charlie on the MTA,” who couldn’t get off the subway car because he didn’t have a nickel to pay the new exit fare introduced in the 1940s.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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