The dodo bird, the token, the MetroCard

The MTA is in the final testing stage of its new “OMNY” system, which will allow riders to pay the fare with a smartphone or a debit or credit card. A huge crew of MTA volunteers — 1,100 riders — will begin using the system next month. (That’s the new screens installed at the World Trade Center, above, but they are also at Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall.) The pilot will only work on Staten Island and on the 4, 5, 6 between Grand Central and Atlantic Av-Barclays. By 2023, this will be the way to pay, and MetroCards will go the way of the token. I guess we are the last to the party: MasterCard had a press release that said this system exists in 150 cities worldwide.

The MTA has this wacky description of the new fare payment system on its website: “OMNY is built on the concept that we are One Metro New York and is based on the prefix ‘omni,’ which means ‘all’ or ‘of all things.’ We believe that transportation is an essential service that connects communities and brings the diversity and energy of New York together. OMNY is the newest way to experience all that the region offers.”

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  1. What is so broken about our our current payment system that it takes priority over getting our actual trains to function? Just take a look at all of the delays.

    In the past 24 hours there has been at least one delay on every single line. Zero resources should be going to building out a new payment method until the city can get the trains to run properly.

    • The easier/faster it is to ride/pay: the more people ride/pay. Your argument is short-sighted, assuming providing better service won’t help with revenue (a thing that helps fund service). You’d have argued for keeping the token back in the day, and 20 years from now if every other Metro system except to NYC had switched to this better system you’d be complaining that they hadn’t.

  2. This type of fare system has been in existence in Tokyo for a long time. But in Vienna, residents pay about $300/yr to ride the entire well maintained system (including suburban trains). No ticket sellers (only machines for non-residents who purchase by zone-based fare), no high tech wickets to install or service. If you are caught, the fine is very steep. That is progressive and it would give all NYC area residents a huge break.