MTA launches first new payment system in 25 years

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OMNY is the first transit agency that will launch with an open loop contactless payment system, meaning customers never need to wait in line to buy a fare card.

Tim Adams

OMNY is the first transit agency that will launch with an open loop contactless payment system, meaning customers never need to wait in line to buy a fare card. Tim Adams

New York MTA launched its new contactless fare payment system, OMNY, allowing riders to pay their fares with digital wallets and contactless credit and debit cards.

OMNY is a first-of-its-kind system that lets riders pay their fare and enter the subway or bus by simply tapping contactless credit, debit, and reloadable prepaid cards, mobile phones, smart watches, and other wearable devices. OMNY will eventually provide a seamless payment system across the MTA’s subways, buses, and two commuter railroads.

OMNY is the first transit agency that will launch with an open loop contactless payment system, meaning customers never need to wait in line to buy a fare card. They simply use the device of their choice and seamlessly enter the system. In time, OMNY will allow customers to pay their fares on subways, buses, and the two commuter rails using the same payment method.

The public pilot phase of the OMNY rollout, which runs through the end of 2019, will allow the MTA to ensure that all systems are fully functional and that any issues are identified and improved upon prior to continuing the rollout of OMNY readers to the rest of the system.

In addition to enhanced customer service, a new OMNY app will provide seamless fare payment between the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North services and subway and bus services. Introduction of an OMNY card will support customers who prefer to fund fares with cash.

Eventually, the system will accommodate the migration of all current unlimited ride pass and other special fare products over to the OMNY environment and the option to purchase fare products online or in stations and new machines A closed-loop OMNY card will be sold in stations at a network of retail stores beginning in 2021, so cash will always be an option.

During the MTA’s rollout of the OMNY contactless readers and continued expansion of OMNY services between 2019 and 2023, riders can still use MetroCard and eTix.

Only after the OMNY project is fully complete in 2023 will the MTA say goodbye to MetroCard for good. The MetroCard debuted in 1993.