MetroCard replacement system to expand later this year
The MTA has been slowly digging the MetroCard’s grave, and now it’s getting a lot deeper.
The agency is finally pushing forward with the next phase of its “Smartcard” program, a quicker payment method that automatically draws money from a user’s bank account.
Riders tap their credit card or key-chain tag on the turnstile to pay -- no MetroCard required.
New transit chief Jay Walder launched a similar payment system, the Oyster card, while running London’s transit system. He has advocated the introduction of a similar payment system in New York.
London’s is among several other transit systems that have already started using such payment methods, and the MTA has been criticized for the pilot’s slow expansion.
“They've been pretty leisurely about doing this,” said William Henderson, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA.
Later this year, NYC Transit will install Smartcard readers on eight city bus lines: the M14, M23, M79, M86, M101, M102, M103 and BxM7, officials said yesterday. More than 175,000 riders use these lines on average weekdays.
Smartcards can speed up bus travel by eliminating the cumbersome process of dipping MetroCards into fare boxes, Henderson said.
“The reward is huge. You gain so much by speeding up the boarding,” Henderson said.
New York has some of the nation's slowest buses, with a number of routes barely traveling faster than a pedestrian, according to the MTA.
In 2006, NYC Transit started the Smartcard pilot on the Lexington Avenue lines. The first phase, which was discontinued in May, was limited to riders with Citibank MasterCards.
Later this year, commuters with any credit or pre-paid card equipped with a payment device can participate. PATH riders and those using the JFK Airtrain will also be able to use Smartcards, as the Port Authority is implementing the technology, officials said.
In other fare news, the MTA is struggling to keep up with the mountains of quarters rolling into the system since fares rose to $2.25. The agency hopes to purchase two coin sorters for $19,000 to handle a 20 percent increase in change, according to documents.