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MTA e-ticket subway access will launch in 2017 for Metro-North and LIRR transfers

The MTA said riders transferring from Metro-North and

The MTA said riders transferring from Metro-North and LIRR will be the first to pilot MetroCard-less subway access at some point in 2017. Photo Credit: Vincent Barone

Commuter rail riders will be the first to pilot e-ticket access to New York City’s subway system.

After Governor Cuomo announced Tuesday that the MTA’s eTix app will offer paperless boarding throughout Metro-North and LIRR systems by summer’s end, the MTA told reporters that those rail riders will also get the first glimpse of a MetroCard-less future.

At some point in 2017 LIRR and Metro-North riders will be able to pay for subway rides through the eTix app on their smartphones to make completely paperless transfers along all 11 subway lines at Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station, according to MTA Spokesman Aaron Donovan.

That includes access to the hubs’ 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,S,A,C and E trains. Donovan said those making transfers will be able to tap or scan their phones, with fares displayable in eTix, at new infrastructure to be installed at subway turnstiles in both transit facilities.

“It will just be for people transferring from the railroads,” Donovan said. “We’re building a system where you can use the eTix app as a way to pay for subway fares. It will be a pilot of what will eventually be the MetroCard replacement.”

Donovan could not yet share details regarding what the new e-scanners would look like, or specifics on how they would work.

“Is it a tap or a scan? Is it an optical reader? We haven’t figured out the technology,” Donovan said.

The pilot will be the first phase of a slow rollout of the 22-year-old MetroCard. Proposals for new MTA fare technology are due on July 13. Advocates believe digital payments could transform New York City transit, if executed properly.

Cuomo touted seamless transfers between MTA systems as the agency’s overarching “vision.”

“We want one interoperable technology system,” Cuomo said at the Grand Central press conference. “So the system you would use on the railroad is the system you’d use a MetroCard with. And just the way you can scan in a grocery store, you should be able to scan when you get on the subway.”


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