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Anywhere in Manhattan: MetroCard makes one more step toward extinction with OMNY rollout

(Photo by Mark Hallum)

Now commuters will need to touch even less to get onto trains and buses with the next phase of the One Metro New York (OMNY) rollout across all 151 Manhattan subway stations and 800-plus Manhattan buses.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says there is no need for straphangers the inner borough to risk infection refilling MetroCards at heavily used kiosks and can simply tap credit cards or smartphones at the turnstile.

But whatever benefit this brings in the age of COVID-19, the effort goes back to May of 2019 to install OMNY readers and the MTA says Brooklyn and Queens will be complete by the end of 2020. Up 348 of the MTA’s total 472 subway stations currently have OMNY readers.

“Manhattan is now the third borough, and if you think that was easy, you’re mistaken,” OMNY Executive Director Al Putre said. “In the last six months, we’ve seen an increase of 75% in market share of OMNY usage… MetroCard was a great system, but MetroCard is 25 years old. The clock is ticking and it can’t last forever. So two things are going to happen: MetroCard, we’re going to retire it and that’s when I’m going to leave as well.”

Putre said in a press conference Tuesday that OMNY will run “side-by-side” with OMNY until reduced fare MetroCards and unlimited payment options are integrated into the OMNY system which is expected to take place in 2021.

“As we work hard tailoring our bus system for a post-pandemic world, modernized fare payment is a key piece of how we can speed up buses and bring customers back to our system,” Craig Cipriano, President of the MTA Bus Company, said.

In December, a main point of discussion around OMNY was the money-saving aspect of eliminating the MetroCard.

With corporate partners such as Chase helping them finance OMNY’s development, Putre has explained that the costs recovered from switching systems could buttress riders against fare increases.

These statements, however, came before the MTA fell into the current financial crisis from COVID-19 which was due in part to a 90% loss in ridership across all systems, leading the agency to the realization the service cuts of 40% and fare increases of about $1 could be necessary.

According to the MTA, they will need $12 billion from the federal government to carry them through the end of 2021.

You can see a full map of stations where OMNY is available here.

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