The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will test a weekly fare cap for public transit riders using the OMNY tap-and-go payment system starting March 1, 2022, according to the transit agency.
The change means that commuters on the subways, local buses, and Staten Island Railway will be charged a regular $2.75 per ride for the first 12 OMNY taps until they hit $33 — the price of a weekly unlimited MetroCard — and all subsequent rides within a seven-day period are free.
The fare cap’s seven-day period would last from Monday at 12 a.m. through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, according to the transit agency.
Two-part trips between subways and buses that currently have a free transfer are counted as a single ride.
Commuters have to use the same bank card, smartphone and smart watch, or MTA’s own OMNY card for all of the 12 trips, and they can track their progress by registering on OMNY’s website.
If someone uses the same device to tap for several people, only the first tap at each station will be free after reaching the $33 threshold.
The fare caps won’t be available to people swiping MetroCards.
MTA expects the cap — which was first reported by The New York Times — to cost the agency between $3-$5 million a month in lost farebox revenue, however if it induces more ridership, that would offset “some of the loss,” according to board book documents published by the agency.
The new feature will need to be approved by the MTA board at its full monthly meeting Wednesday.
The pilot will last four months until June 30, but MTA acting Chairperson and CEO Janno Lieber told the paper of record that he hopes it will be made permanent.
The move also aims to lure back New Yorkers to mass transit as recent daily ridership counts fluctuate around 55%-65% of pre-pandemic levels on the subways, and around 65% on buses.
Transit bigs previously confirmed in October that MTA were fleshing out a proposal for fare capping to bring before the 21-member board.
An MTA staffer handling the New York City Transit’s Twitter account told a rider on social media that earlier in October that OMNY already switched to unlimited rides “depending on how many times you’ve used it in a given period of time,” but transit officials soon walked back that statement.
Hi, Yelena. It is already compatible! OMNY measures your card usage and automatically switches to unlimited depending on how many times you've used it in a given period of time. ^KB
— NYCT Subway. Wear a Mask. (@NYCTSubway) October 14, 2021
Mass transit in other jurisdictions have had fare caps for years, such as London’s Oyster card, which limits the amount riders pay in a day and week.
MTA’s proposal doesn’t include a daily or monthly cap.
OMNY launched in mid-2019 and now accounts for about one in every four fare payment, according to MTA.
The agency plans to phase out the MetroCard in 2023.