While a number of other U.S. cities’ mass transit systems have already moved beyond plastic swipe cards and now use fobs or other smart keys, New York City with more than 450 subway stops, nearly 250 miles of track, and around 600 buses, has not made that next-gen leap. But now the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will finally begin to phase out the use of MetroCards over the coming years.
An MTA committee unanimously approved today a $573 million makeover for the city’s transit system, which will allow riders to wave or tap a smartphone or a credit/debit card to pay for their subway or bus ride instead of swiping a card, reports AM New York.
The payment system will work through either apps like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay, as well as any credit card or debit card with chips that allow near field communication.
“It’s the next step in bringing us into the 21st century, which we need to do. “It’s going to be transformative,” Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the MTA, told The New York Times, adding that millennials will be “our greatest users in the early stages.
Don’t go shredding your MetroCards just yet. It’s going to take at least five years for the MTA to phase these cards out. The agency won’t even begin installing new readers on buses and at subway stations until late 2018. These readers will also be placed in Long Island Railroad and Metro-North commuter line stations as the rollout moves forward.
The newly-approved plan will now go to an agency board for a vote Wednesday.