MTA to replace all MetroCard vending machines with OMNY by end of next year

September 6, 2022

Photo by Arun D on Flickr

After 23 years of service, the New York City subway system’s iconic MetroCard vending machines will be replaced. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will start swapping out the classic machines for OMNY (“One Metro New York”) vending machines during the first half of 2023 after finalizing hardware and software testing, as NY1 reported. The entire MetroCard system is expected to be replaced by the end of 2023.

Photo courtesy of Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit on Flickr

The city began the gradual replacement of the MetroCard with OMNY in 2019, launching a pilot program of the contactless payment system that allowed riders to tap their credit cards, debit cards, and smartphones to pay fares.

Both OMNY and the MetroCard will remain usable until the entire MetroCard system is officially put to rest. Customers are now able to purchase an OMNY card in preparation for the system’s replacement of the MetroCard at 2,000 locations throughout the city.

Riders can tap and pay through a digital wallet on smartphones or watches, with a credit or debit card with microchips, and the reloadable OMNY card. The contactless payment system has been stalled at every subway station and bus.

The MetroCard machine as we know it was first developed in 1996 by industrial designers Masamichi Udagawa and Sigi Moeslinger who were tasked with revamping a vending machine the MTA had already purchased for their new ticketing system.

Designed by Cubic, the same manufactures as the OMNY system, the machines purchased by the MTA ended up being hated by the majority of users due to their confusing interface, according to Curbed. Udagawa, Moeslinger, and a team of interaction designers worked together to revitalize the machine and give it its iconic appearance that all New Yorkers are familiar with today.

The designers implemented a unique coloring system that divided each function of the machine into a distinct color, giving it what Curbed calls a “splashy aesthetic.” They also made the user’s experience as straightforward as possible, displaying one simple question or action per screen in large, easily-readable text.


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