MTA Approves $574m MetroCard-Replacing eReaders

MTA chairman Joseph J. Lhota said, “Today’s vote is a tremendous win for New Yorkers, paving the way for flexible payment options, a streamlined trip through the region’s public transit, and updated equipment that will help save money in operating costs. Together with Cubic, we look forward to building the MTA of tomorrow.”

New videos show how the readers work, with a swipe of a credit card, mobile phone, smart watch or, yes, a MetroCard. Riders will still be able to use the cards during the transition, and they won’t be completely phased out until 2023.

The new system will allow customers pay using credit and debit cards and mobile devices at the bus or turnstile–including seamless access to Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and Metro-North Rail Road–instead of using a separate fare card. For riders without a bank card or who prefer not to use one, a contactless card option will be available. Customers will be able to create personalized transit accounts to check ride history and balances, add value and report lost or stolen cards via mobile phone.

The system will allow riders to move through the transit system more quickly. It will also
reduce costs for the MTA by significantly reducing the dispensing of fare media, streamlining fare calculation and allow the phasing-out of 20-year-old equipment becomes more costly to maintain each year.

Cubic will handle the design, integration, supply and implementation of the fare system and associated services including hardware and software maintenance and transition services like call center support. Cubic’s partners statewide will provide manufacturing, call center and marketing services to the MTA. Transport for London (TfL) and financial giant Mastercard are also Cubic partners in the contract.

AM New York reminds us that there’s no word yet as to what the new system will be called; Some cities have given more playful names to their all-access cards: London has the Oyster Card; the Bay Area has the Clipper; Boston has the CharlieCard. MTA board member Veronica Vanterpool said, “I think it would be nice to have something fresh and new. The MetroCard identified a time and era in MTA that’s soon to be history–much like the token. It might be a great time to go with something new.”