MTA’s new cardless fare system could benefit low-income New Yorkers

Posted On Mon, November 13, 2017 By

Posted On Mon, November 13, 2017 By In Policy, Technology, Transportation

Image via WNYC

Not only would the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s new electronic fare payment system make commuting more efficient, it might also save money for low-income straphangers. According to amNY, advocates and experts say the new “contactless” technology could make the system more equitable through a policy called fare capping: riders pay per ride until the daily or weekly capping rates are reached, with every ride being free after that.


Video courtesy of Cubic Transportation Systems

As 6sqft previously reported, the MTA awarded Cubic Transportation Systems, the company behind the current MetroCard system, a $539.5 million contract to develop a more modern fare payment system. Last month, a video released by the company shows a simple swipe of a credit card, smartphone, smartwatch, or MetroCard, lets riders through the subway turnstile. The new system, set to replace the plastic card by 2023, will also allow customers to create personalized transit accounts online to check ride history, add value and report lost or stolen cards.

The current payment system gives benefits to riders willing to spend $121 on the spot for an unlimited monthly pass by saving them on cost-per-ride fares. For New Yorkers who cannot afford to spend over $100 on a single purchase, there are no savings when buying the weekly or daily pass. Advocates say the contactless system could make commuting more equitable.

MTA board member David Jones told amNY, “… With the [new] technology, if you in fact swipe through enough times in a month you could automatically be given the 30-day benefit. The backend of this technology is sophisticated enough that it can tally how many times you are using the system.”

Fare capping, a policy Cubic has implemented for London’s transit fare system, would no longer force riders to choose between a daily or weekly pass; straphangers pay per ride until the daily or weekly capping rates are reached and pay nothing after that.

While a fare capping policy has been backed by transit advocacy group Riders Alliance, the MTA Board has not decided whether it will implement it as part of the new system.

[Via amNY]

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