New York City Completes Apple Pay, OMNY Rollout on Buses and Trains

By Anna Breuer on 3 January 2021
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New York City’s new OMNY contactless fare collection system

Apple Pay and Google Pay users can now use their devices on the world’s largest rapid transit system in the world.  The Metropolitan Transit Authority announced the completion of its systemwide rollout of OMNY, its contactless fare payment system, in New York City.

“It’s OMNY time,” said Al Putre, who heads the MTA’s fare payment programs unit, after the final subway station to be equipped with OMNY readers went online.  The MTA installed over 15,000 OMNY readers at a total of 472 subway stations, on 5,800 buses, and at Staten Island Railway stations over the past several years.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority is the agency responsible for public transit in the New York City metropolitan area.  OMNY stands for One Metro New York.

The new system, which has been well received by subway riders, is now in operation at all subway stations in the Big Apple. It also works on all all MTA-operated local, limited, and express bus services including the Select Bus Service routes.

“This project is fundamentally also about bringing a critical part of our system into the 21st century,” said Sarah Feinberg, the New York City Transit Authority’s interim president, at a press conference last week. “Tap and go means no more failed swipes no more losing your MetroCard. Just bring your own device and you can enter the system with ease.”

The city’s transit system is the largest in North America and its metro system has the most stops in the world.  It is also the largest single-operator rapid transit system in the world.

In addition to Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Fitbit Pay as well as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover cards that support contactless payment will also work with OMNY.

OMNY only supports pay-per-ride fares and no advance purchase is required. The MTA plans to add support for reduced fares and time-based passes similar to what is available now on MetroCards in the next phase of the OMNY rollout.  It will also add OMNY cards that can be purchased at kiosks at subway stations for those who wish to pay cash to use a subway or bus.

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 the MetroCard by 2023.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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