After years of promising to catch New York City up with foreign backwaters like London and Washington, D.C., the MTA announced yesterday evening that they’re finally ready to trade the MetroCard in for a phone app or smart card riders can use to enter the subway.
Subway riders at certain 4/5/6 stops and bus riders in Staten Island will be able to pay for their subway rides with a tap of their phones’ mobile wallet or a bank card instead of a swipe starting in 2019, according to amNewYork, the start of a four year phase-out of the MetroCard across the entire transit system.
Per MTA officials, the “validators,” as the new fare collection machines are called, will be placed in certain Lexington Avenue line stations this October, and by May 2019 will install the validators at every stop on the line between Grand Central and Atlantic Terminal.
In Staten Island, every local and express bus should have the validators by next May. However, it won’t immediately lead to the introduction of all-door boarding, a boarding process transit advocates say would lead to a decline in bus delays. The decision to introduce all-door boarding will still be up to the MTA board, but buses will be outfitted to handle the process if it does get approved.
The agency began to test tap-and-go fare collection last year at the Bowling Green and Wall Street stops, in a pilot available only to MTA employees. Shortly after that, the agency announced a $573 million contract with Cubic, which developed the MetroCard, to phase the swipe out forever.
According to amNewYork, transit riders will eventually have the option of tapping their phone, a smart card, or even a bank card, although the smart card won’t come on the scene until 2021. The future MTA app was pitched by Cubic as a fully integrated payment system for transit options across the system, from subways to commuter rail to buses to even bike share. For those without spacephones or bank cards, the smart card will be available for purchase from vending machines in subway stations
And yes, this means no more collectible Twin Peaks or David Bowie MetroCards in the future, but it also means less screaming at an innocent machine when it doesn’t accept credit cards. Seems like a fair trade.