MTA to overhaul MetroCard system

Patrick J. Cashin | Metropolitan Transit Authority

Patrick J. Cashin | Metropolitan Transit Authority

The MTA rolled out its new One Metro New York turnstile pilot program on May 31 to test out a new method of payment.

Using OMNY, commuters will no longer have to use a MetroCard to swipe into the station — instead, they will tap a “contactless” credit card, debit card, smartphone or smartwatch onto scanners called validators.

Additionally, people who prefer to pay with cash can purchase an OMNY card, which the validators will also accept, according to an article from the Gothamist . These forms of payment need to be synced to a “digital wallet” account before being ready for use.

Once the validator has successfully taken or charged its payment, a “beep” will signify that you have paid and can walk through the turnstile, Wayne Lydon, the director of fare payment programs for the MTA, said.

OMNY validators can be found at sixteen stations along the four, five and six lines starting from Atlantic-Barclays Center through Grand Central station. They can also be found on all Staten Island buses.

From this point, the program will be spread to subway stations and buses across the five boroughs and to the Long Island Rail Road. It is currently unclear if the NYC Ferry and PATH trains will adopt OMNY at some point, too.

Before opening up the pilot program to all commuters, the MTA tested the validators by having its employees try them out for a few weeks before the end of May. This was supposed to allow the program creators to identify and fix bugs before commuters tested it.

According to News Four New York, the OMNY system was modeled after London’s contactless Oyster card system, and it also resembles the Ventra system of Chicago.

While the program is new, some Baruch commuters have already tried it out, yielding mixed results.

“It’s more convenient for me, personally, as I use the subway very infrequently,” said Undergraduate Student Government President Dakshatha Daggala.

“Once they roll out an app that people can use for monthlies and weeklies, it will be better than a MetroCard.”

Student Julie Liu, on the other hand, disagrees.

“[It] took awhile to accept my Apple Pay,” the accounting student said. “No, it’s not better than a MetroCard cause how can I transfer to bus?”

Members of the MTA defend the switch, saying that it’s a quicker, more user-friendly method than swiping a MetroCard, which often glitches and needs to be swiped multiple times to work.

“The beauty part of this system is no longer waiting in linego to a station agent,” said MTA Fare Payment Executive Alan Putre in the News Four NY article. 

“They bring their own convenient method. You tap, you go, you ride. What could be more convenient?”

It seems that Baruch students agree with these sentiments, including USG representative senator Andres Aguirre.

“Honestly, it seems like a great idea,” he said. 

“This new tech would definitely speed up the lines that sometimes accumulate at the turnstiles during rush hour.”

Luckily for those who don’t like the new system, MetroCards will still be allowed for use until 2023.