MetroCard phaseout signals new era for commuters


Metropolitan Transit Authority | Flickr

Adriana Maria, Opinions Editor

The Metropolitan Transit Authority should use the implementation of the OMNY system as an opportunity to further improve the quality of its transit system and make it easier for New Yorkers to commute.

The MTA has announced that MetroCards will be phased out by 2024 and replaced by the  OMNY payment system, which allows riders to make a contactless payment with their phones in lieu of swiping.

OMNY’s goal is to unify New York City’s transit system through the installation of a standard payment system for its buses, subways, paratransit and commuter rails.

OMNY users have three methods of paying: tapping their credit, debit or prepaid contactless card, a smart device with an added digital wallet or purchasing an OMNY card.

The MTA commented on how OMNY vending machines will soon be replacing the iconic MetroCard machines in a tweet.

Aside from the tap-and-go OMNY screens placed in front of the terminals, visuals of the vending machine have not been shared. Any projects set to install payment machines inside stations are still pending.

It will be difficult to outdo the MetroCard machine’s iconic design, which features vivid colors and large fonts.

Industrial designers were tasked with remodeling a previous payment machine, which proved ineffective upon installation because New Yorkers found it difficult to navigate the interface.

Masamichi Udagawa, one of the industrial designers, described the redesigning of the complicated machines that predated MetroCard machines as “disaster management.”

The designers eventually landed on the multicolor aesthetic that has become a staple of the MetroCard machine, with each color corresponding to a distinct function.

For payment, green signals a customer insert cash, whereas blue indicates card; the yellow slot disperses MetroCards,while the red is reserved for change and receipts.

Udagawa and the other notable designers with whom he collaborated were not invited to work on the modern OMNY machines. Perhaps the OMNY project’s representatives want to develop something different than the machine New Yorkers have grown accustomed to.

Features such as the machine’s porcelain enamel, vandal-proof coating and one question per screen will likely return in the upcoming OMNY machines.

A weekly unlimited MetroCard will be replaced by OMNY ride bundles, which allow riders who accumulate 12 rides over a seven-day period to ride for free.

This service will be offered to all users regardless of which OMNY payment service they use.

The MTA is also launching an OMNY app in 2023, where users can register an account to access a personalized dashboard with their recent transit activity.

With technology constantly transforming societies, the OMNY system is here to make New Yorkers’ lives easier through contactless taping.

But the MTA should not stop there. Now that MetroCard machines are getting a makeover, so too should other outdated facets of the subway system.

The Fourth Plan recommends a plan to rebuild the New York City subway system by making stations compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which would include providing people with disabilities with wider entrances, added elevators, platform screen doors, improved ventilation and reduced heat.

Additionally, crime in subway platforms is also up by nearly 40% compared to last year, according to a report by CNN.

The added convenience of the OMNY system is certainly a step in the right direction. But the MTA shouldn’t forget about the other problems, such as delays, crime, lack of air conditioning and more, which continue to plague commuters daily.