New York City Plans to Replace Transit MetroCard With Electronic Card Readers That Support Apple Pay

New York City is planning to replace its existing MetroCard transit payment system with electronic card readers that will allow New Yorkers to pay their subway and bus fares using Apple Pay, reports The New York Times.

A committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority this morning approved a $573 million contract for a payment system that mirrors the one in use for the London Underground and commuter railroads in London.

Image via The New York Times

Starting in late 2018, NFC-based electronic readers will be installed in 500 subway turnstiles and 600 buses, with rollout expanding to all subway stations and buses by late 2020. Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay will work with the new system, as will contactless credit and debit cards that have an embedded NFC chip.

While the new system will replace the MetroCard, New York City will not phase out MetroCards entirely until 2023. Until then, the two systems will co-exist.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay


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13 months ago
Welcome to 2003, New York!
Rating: 9 Votes
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13 months ago

I sure hope they put the emphasis on speed here. When a metrocard is swiped correctly, you barely have to break your stride at all to go through.

If this takes even a couple seconds to register, it's going to slow things down horribly. I mean, aside from your occasional tourist or newbie who hasn't gotten the hang of swiping, or the odd card or turnstile malfunction, people do it very fast.

"occasional tourist" - New York City receives over 60 million foreign and American tourists each year. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_New_York_City

"When a metrocard is swiped correctly, you barely have to break your stride at all to go through." I'd say 50% of the time if you "swipe correctly" - the rest is multiswipes, frustration and/or waiting for the person in front of you to swipe over and over or go through 5 different MetroCards to figure out which one didn't expire.

Apple Pay will be a HUGE improvement in turnstiles over MetroCards
Rating: 7 Votes
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13 months ago

So does this mean that sometime in 2023 you have to have a smartphone to use the subway? If not, would you need to purchase a standalone NFC capable MetroCard of some kind? Wonder how much that'll cost.

Exactly how Chicago, Philly, and London does it. You’d buy a $5 NFC plastic card if you don’t want to use your phone.
Rating: 5 Votes
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13 months ago
Honestly, with the NFC embedded in the phone, Apple should cooperate with major city transit systems to allow owners to add a virtual transit card into wallet, and be able to just use it like a regular NFC card without the need to authenticate your phone using Face ID or Touch ID. Needing to authenticate will inevitably slow things down. And Android users have been able to do this for some systems for a while using non-officially supported NFC card emulators.
Rating: 3 Votes
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13 months ago
Meh. Let's just switch to the honor system and have New Yorkers send in money for any rides they use. We're good for it.
Rating: 3 Votes
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13 months ago

That's great, hopefully they will also find some money to get in some cleaners for some of the platforms. Having been to Hong Kong recently where even people are paid to stand there sanitising the escalator handrails, the NYC metro is frankly embarrassing by comparison.


You should have seen it in the 80s, dude.
Rating: 2 Votes
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13 months ago

I sure hope they put the emphasis on speed here. When a metrocard is swiped correctly, you barely have to break your stride at all to go through.


In London, the "Oyster" card (a MIFARE RFID card) is extremely fast - virtually instantaneous. But using a contactless debit/credit card, or Apple Pay, does indeed add a slight delay of about 1 second or so.
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I compared it to Hong Kong though as that's not massively dissimilar city wise and yet they manage to keep an excellent tube system.


Hong Kong's MTR is much newer than New York's subway. The oldest parts of the MTR were only opened in 1979, so they've had the benefit of significantly improved designs and technology.
Rating: 2 Votes
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13 months ago

Welcome to 2003, New York!


As a native New Yorker, all I say is we're like Apple in a way, we wait until the technology has matured to our liking and maybe our bottom line (sometimes waiting too damn long). With that being said, I definitely won't miss the MetroCard. I did miss tokens for a while, but that probably had more to do with nostalgia for my childhood growing up in the city.
Rating: 2 Votes
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13 months ago
This is the best news I got all day.

Sam
Rating: 2 Votes
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13 months ago
One advantage of the way MetroCard is designed is you can swipe your card as you walk through the turnstile, allowing large groups of people to move through quickly once they know to have their card out and ready (which you learn quickly, even a visitor to the city like myself)

Do we really want people fumbling with their phones trying to Touch ID to go through the turnstile? This will slow things down quite a bit compared to the current system.

A plain NFC card is fine. Requiring people to unlock their phones with TouchID (or even worse, FaceID) will slow down the crowds too much.
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My point is that the act of swiping can be very very fast. If HALF of your swipes are going south, then I don't know what to tell you except maybe do it better? Stand and watch people going through the turnstile sometime for a few minutes while you're waiting for your train, and then get back here and say again that half of people take more than one pass through to get in.


I know, right? I don't even live there; I just visit, and I rarely have issues with Metrocards. You learn how to walk-and-swipe fairly quickly, at least in my experience.
Rating: 2 Votes
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