Quinn wants to speed up plan for no-swipe MetroCards
Council Speaker Christine Quinn Sunday said part of her plan to wrest control of the MTA from the state includes appointing members to the agency's board who will prioritize creating a no-swipe MetroCard.
A no-contact, computerized fare payment method to phase out the 20-year-old MetroCard was a goal of former MTA chief Jay Walder, who instituted the Oyster smart card for London's transit system before leading New York's transit agency from 2009 to 2011.
Quinn, a front-runner for the Democratic mayoral nomination, said "a combination of faulty planning, turnover in leadership and misguided prioritization has stymied the effort," which was originally slated for 2012.
"We in New York City have fallen behind other municipalities in providing the quickest, easiest, most cost-efficient transit in the country in part because we're still so dedicated to using the MetroCard," Quinn said at news conference outside Grand Central Terminal.
Judie Glave, an MTA spokeswoman, said the plan is to get a swipeless payment system in place by 2019, when the MetroCard system will reach the end of its life, is "already going full-speed ahead." The agency wants an outside vendor to make the fare-payment technology, whether it is a card with a chip, a mobile phone payment system or key fob, Glave said.
"We want to get out of the business of making our own cards, which is proving costly," Glave said. "Whatever the technology is, we'll be ready to implement it."
Quinn used the delay of a new generation of fare payment to push a politically challenging plan to persuade the state to hand over control of the MTA to New York City, similar to the Bloomberg administration's successful takeover of the school system. Quinn's top Democratic rival, former Rep. Anthony Weiner, has also pitched greater city control over transit as part of his transportation policy. On the Republican side, ex-MTA chief Joe Lhota has supported a city takeover of MTA bridges and tunnels.
The mayor of New York City has only four seats on the 17-member board, chaired by Thomas Prendergast, the MTA CEO.
"We can achieve this easily with mayoral control of the MTA," Quinn said. "I believe that the mayor should be able to appoint the majority of the members of the MTA board."