The days of fruitlessly swiping and swiping (and swiping again) a MetroCard at a bad turnstile reader are officially numbered in New York City.
That's because the MTA announced on Monday that it will begin making widespread replacements of the now ubiquitous card readers with a modern, contactless payment system that straphangers can use to get into the mass transit system late next year.
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said the new payment method will be available at every turnstile throughout the city by 2020, with as many as 500 contactless readers installed at subways and 600 in buses by next year.
Officials told The New York Times, which first reported the imminent change, that straphangers would be able to use smartphones, certain debit and credit cards or other devices embedded with near-field communication chips to get onto their train.
“The millennial generation, those who are more prone to new technology, will be our greatest users in the early stages,” Mr. Lhota told The New York Times. “It’s the next step in bringing us into the 21st century, which we need to do. It’s going to be transformative.”
And straphangers who want a look at the future of mobile ticketing may be able to get an early glimpse. Curbed reported earlier this month that mobile ticketing readers have been installed at the Bowling Green and Wall Street stops as part of a pilot program available only to MTA employees.
Matthew Hudson of Transport for London told an NYU transit summit in September that using bank cards or smartphones is the fastest way to get through a turnstile.
“If you do get it right, it’s amazing what other good things also come your way,” Hudson said.
Metro-North and LIRR already use electronic smartphone tickets, and the change should allow commuters to more easily transfer between the subway and rails.
The MTA estimates that while it will implement the new fare payment system soon and start using it next year, it won’t eliminate MetroCards for another five years in 2023 (It took eight years to phase out the old token system.)
NYU professor Mitchell Moss, who advises MTA’s leadership as it undergoes Chairman Joseph Lhota's newly unveiled NYC Subway Action Plan, said earlier this year implementing a contactless system will be worth the wait.
“Anytime you’re making a decision for a system that has six million riders a day, you want to take time, you want to do it right,” Moss said.