With the goal of eventually phasing out the use of MetroCards in the New York City subway system, the MTA has begun the testing phase of a mobile device scanning and payment system. Untapped Cities reports that the first trials of a new mobile fare system are being installed at points where Metro-North commuters transfer to the subway, as an expansion of the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road’s eTix app. At specific stations, riders can make the transfer with turnstiles fitted with scanners that allow them to swipe their phones. The new turnstiles have already been installed in the Bowling Green and Wall Street Stations in lower Manhattan for a test run; the expansion is a pilot for the eventual phasing out of MetroCards altogether.
The cards, which replaced the token system in the 1990s, are becoming increasingly obsolete as many cities have adopted modern payment options via apps or bank cards. Using the updated payment methods eliminates the cumbersome drawbacks of cards such as the dreaded “please swipe again” notice at turnstiles. 6sqft has reported on plans to bring the subway’s payment system into the future, including Gov. Cuomo’s vows to install contactless payment by 2018.
Nick Sifuentes, Executive Director at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, explained to AM New York that the MetroCard has “outlived its usefulness. Cities from London to Los Angeles are definitely, at this point, ahead of the MTA in terms of fare technology and it’s good that we’re thinking of how to catch up.”
According to NY1 MTA officials hope to make it clear that the new payment system is only a test, and that the methods eventually adopted may be different from those being tested (NY1 also offers video of the new scanners in action). The new mobile scanners will be installed in 14 stations city-wide, including Penn Station, Grand Central, the 14th Street-7th Avenue station and the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center station, before the year’s end.