How to use OMNY, the MetroCard replacement on some subway lines, buses

The OMNY payment system was on display at the MTA Board meeting on April 17. Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

The MTA’s new fare payment system, which debuted in May, hit its 1 millionth tap on Aug. 8 at the Fulton Center station.

The OMNY payment system was on display at the MTA Board meeting on April 17.
The OMNY payment system was on display at the MTA Board meeting on April 17. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

Over 1 million commuters have tapped into the subway using OMNY, the MTA’s new fare payment system, since it launched in May.

The tap-to-pay technology will eventually replace the swipe, swipe, swipe of the MetroCard across the five boroughs.

In an attempt to control the chaos likely to occur if the MetroCard was tossed out overnight, the MTA is rolling out the new system in phases, starting with 16 subway stations on the 4, 5 and 6 lines in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The new technology is also available on Staten Island buses.

The MTA demonstrated how to use the new OMNY payment system for subways and buses at an April board meeting.
The MTA demonstrated how to use the new OMNY payment system for subways and buses at an April board meeting. Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

For now, the only people who will benefit from using OMNY are Staten Islanders who rely on the bus system and subway riders whose commutes start and end at a station that has the new technology, but even those straphangers would also need a MetroCard to move around outside of those stations.

Here’s what else you need to know about how to use OMNY.

How does OMNY work?

All riders have to do is hold a contactless bank card (debit, credit or prepaid) or a smartphone mobile wallet up to the new card readers installed at turnstiles to enter the subway system. 

Other forms of payment are also in the works, including an MTA app and an OMNY card. The MTA expects to offer mobile ticketing via the OMNY app in 2020. The card will make its debut in 2021.

Sign up for an OMNY account in order to manage payment options, review charges, view trip history and contact customer service.

How do I know whether I have a contactless bank card?

Contactless cards have a specific symbol on the front or back that looks similar to the image used to represent Wi-Fi. Many financial institutions have begun to issue contactless cards, and the MTA said riders should be able to request one from their bank or credit card company.

What about paying with cash?

For now, riders are not able to use OMNY with cash. Riders who want to pay in cash will have to wait until the MTA rolls out the OMNY card, which is expected to be available via select retailers in February 2021 and in new station vending machines by 2023.

Is there a weekly or monthly payment option?

OMNY will only be available as a full fare, single ride payment option until the technology is installed and launched across the entire subway and bus system, per the MTA. The transit authority expects to be able to offer weekly, monthly and discounted fares sometime in late 2020.

The OMNY system is expected to launch across all buses routes and subway lines by the end of 2020.
The OMNY system is expected to launch across all buses routes and subway lines by the end of 2020. Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

Which subway stations are equipped with OMNY technology?

Sixteen subway stations that serve the 4, 5 and 6 lines between Grand Central-42nd Street in Manhattan and Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center in Brooklyn are equipped with the tap-to-pay technology.

When will OMNY launch systemwide?

OMNY is expected to launch across the subway and bus systems by the end of 2020, but the MetroCard will stick around until July 2023. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey recently announced plans to implement the OMNY system along the PATH train, which has stations in Manhattan and New Jersey. OMNY will also expand to include the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad in early 2021.

Lauren Cook