OMNY tap-based fare payment system begins slow takeover for MetroCard

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Al Putre, MTA’s OMNY Program Executive, said the two-year rollout of the program is now underway. (Photo by Mark Hallum)

The launch of the “One Metro New York” (OMNY) fare payment system will be leaving the MetroCard in its dust in the next two years, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority rolled out more tap-and-go screens at Penn Station on Wednesday.

Now that OMNY has been at 16 stations around the city as part of the pilot to iron out any kinks before making a full commitment, New York City Transit President Andy Byford said the agency is getting into the “business end” of $573 million rollout.

Byford said the OMNY system modernizes the fare payment system improvements, bringing them from far behind other cities to well ahead of the pack. Under OMNY, no one will need a specific card to get into the system; riders can just tap their smartphones or credit cards to enter through turnstiles.

“So far already, we have recorded over $4 million taps… that exceeds our honest expectations, people love OMNY, they want OMNY, they’re taking it up with relish,” Byford said. “We’re now making OMNY accessible to a whole new market, namely customers of Long Island Rail Road, customers of New Jersey Transit and customers of Amtrak.”

New York City Transit President Andy Byford with a Chase “tap” card. (Photo by Mark Hallum)

Among other banks, the MTA has partnered with Chase in order to fund the program’s rollout —  something that Al Putre, executive director of the OMNY Fare Payment Program, said is mainly because the agency is always in need of money.

Commuters benefit from this partnership by virtue of the MTA avoiding the need to raise fares, Putre said.

“This contract is completely funded. These partners are only giving additional money and we could always use money so we take it,” Putre said. “We don’t want have to raise the fare and we don’t like to get funding from our customers. Every dollar we can get from another funding source allows us to put that money toward our expenses.”

Seven day or 30-day unlimited pay options will be available through the program between late 2020 or February 2021 through the OMNY app’s pay options, according to Putre.

OMNY on the bus system will make its first appearance on the Select Bus Service, Byford said. OMNY panels will be installed next to both doors for all-door boarding.