MTA’s no-cash transaction policy makes no sense

The Editorial Board

The MTA’s no-cash policy that was implemented at station booths provides no benefits and puts lower-income groups, children and the elderly at a disadvantage.

While removing the option to use cash to fill MetroCards made sense in the era of COVID-19 as it cut down on person-to-person interaction, it makes little sense now. Station booths allow for people such as children and the elderly who don’t necessarily have access to a debit or credit card or aren’t that good with technology to be purchase MetroCards and board trains legally.

The removal of cash has been part of a greater plan on the part of the MTA to phase out station booths.

This has included many station booths being shut down with no plans for re-opening. This shift toward automating MetroCard machines, most of which don’t accept cash anymore, and introducing OMNY pay scanners provides convenience to some MTA customers and cut down on costs for the corporation.

However, the implementation of these systems assumes that every person riding the train has a bank account, a debit card, credit card or phone. This is inherently discriminatory against those who may not have access to all of these things..

This policy even seems illegal in the context of other laws that New York City has passed regarding not accepting cash for services. It also  previously banned food stores and other retail establishments from not accepting cash payments, citing a consumer’s right to choose as one of the main drivers behind the ban.

Considering the city’s previous stance on cashless businesses, it appears counter-productive for a public corporation affiliated with the New York City government, such as the MTA, to be heading in a cashless direction by removing the option at station booths.

Besides the disadvantages, the removal of cash from station booths concerns certain customers about cyber-security and all of the personal data that becomes part of the MTA’s system as a result of the digital transactions associated with train fares.

This is especially concerning as the MTA’s computer systems have been breached by hackers in the past.

The MTA’s policy regarding the removal of cash from station booths is not only discriminatory against some of the most vulnerable groups in society, but also raises privacy and security concerns as it removes options for consumers and forces many to share their data with the MTA.