The slow death of the MetroCard begins next spring

Posted On Thu, June 14, 2018 By

Posted On Thu, June 14, 2018 By In Technology, Transportation

Photo via Phil Hollenback/Flickr

It’s the end of an era but one that might not be too sentimental. As of May 2019, the MTA is launching its new fare payment method for the 4, 5, and 6 lines and all bus routes on Staten Island, reports amNY. No more steel bars karate chopping your abdomen when you realize your MetroCard is out of credit. Starting next spring, riders can use credit cards, mobile phones, smart watches, and mobile wallets to travel… but you’ll still be able to swipe your old MetroCard until 2023.

Cubic, MTA, NYC Subway, cardless payment, MetroCardCubic MTA payment system. Rendering courtesy of Cubic Corporation

To modernize and keep up with the Joneses, the MTA is stepping up their technology, “This is proof and this is a great example of us taking our system . . . and making it on par with the systems around the world that are considered world-class. We’re a world-class city and we deserve a world-class system and this is one example of that,” says MTA spokesman Jon Weinstein.

Cubic, MTA, NYC Subway, cardless payment, MetroCardCubic MTA payment system. Rendering courtesy of Cubic Corporation

The MTA is currently testing new fare readers and will install them as early as this October. Videos demonstrate how they will work. The new “tap-and-go” system will be launched from Grand Central/42nd Street to Atlantic Avenue/Barclays Center.

If, for some reason, the end of the MetroCard is upsetting, be consoled that it will take five years before the system to fully be in place. The citywide launch will not happen until 2020.

Cubic, MTA, NYC Subway, cardless payment, MetroCardCubic MTA payment system. Rendering courtesy of Cubic Corporation

A new smart card will be unveiled in February 2021. Riders will be able to purchase it at drugstores and convenience stores, like typical gift cards. In 2022, vending machine will appear in stations. The specific payment app is still in development.

Cubic Transportation Systems, the same company that developed the MetroCards that replaced subway tokens over 30 years ago, is developing the new system. The $574 million contract is on time and on budget, according to Bradley Feldmann, Cubic’s CEO.

According to Nick Sifuentes, the executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, “The MetroCard kind of revolutionized the subway system by allowing riders to transfer; it really changed the way people used the system and it actually opened up the entire city.”

Questions still remain about fare benefits. Jon Orcutt, a spokesman at TransitCenter said, “We have the perverse situation now where the people who can afford the most upfront costs get the steepest fare discounts. What we’d like to see is more specificity on when we’ll be able to use rear doors for boarding local buses and whether we’re going to go in some of the initiative directions that places like London have gone . . . I think if you want to sell people on why they have to change, you want to offer new benefits.”

The MTA wants to move things along. Another way to speed up bus boarding is using an all-door bus boarding system. Eventually, the MTA plans to wire all buses to allow that but the initial launch will only have front door boarding.

[Via amNY]

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