End of NYC’s MetroCards delayed until 2024 amid software issues with tap-to-pay OMNY system

Warga, Craig/New York Daily News/TNS
·2 min read

New Yorkers can keep on swiping MetroCards until at least 2024.

The magnetic stripe cards previously scheduled to be phased out by the end of 2023 will be available for several more months due to delays with the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s new tap-to-pay OMNY system, officials confirmed Monday.

The delays were attributed in part to a “software migration problem” by Cubic Transportation Systems, the company contracted to roll out the new system, said Amy Linden, head of fare systems at the MTA.

OMNY readers — which allow riders to pay fares using bank cards, smartphones or smart gadgets — are in place at all the city’s subway turnstiles and buses. Riders can also purchase physical OMNY cards at retail stores, where they can load them with cash.

But more work must be done before OMNY can fully replace the MetroCard, Linden said during a presentation at an MTA committee meeting.

The MTA needs to install roughly 1,600 OMNY vending machines at subway stations to replace ones that sell MetroCards, a process that will not start until late 2022 and take 13 months, Linden said.

The MTA must also create an OMNY app that lets riders purchase transit passes on their smartphones.

A global shortage of plastic and electronic chips may hinder the MTA’s ability to build a stock of new OMNY cards, which are similar in shape to credit cards, according to Linden’s presentation.

“We will decommission the MetroCard when it is prudent and appropriate to do so,” said MTA spokesman Tim Minton.

The MTA also plans to set up a digital OMNY payment system for Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road — but the technology is not expected to be ready until the third quarter of 2024, officials said.

The MTA in 2017 entered into a $573 million contract with Cubic to roll out OMNY, and the budget has since grown to $772 million.

The latest budget projection for OMNY “does not yet reflect change orders the MTA is currently analyzing and currently negotiating with the vendor,” Linden said.

The new fare payment system currently only accepts single ride tickets. The MTA on March 1 will launch a four-month pilot that keeps riders who use the same credit or bank card at OMNY readers from paying more than $33 per calendar week, matching the price of a seven-day unlimited MetroCard.

Transit officials said OMNY is already wildly popular with New Yorkers, with 23% of subway and bus riders using the new system to pay for their rides in November.