PATH trains to get OMNY-like tap-and-go fare payment in 2023

A PATH train at the Journal Square Station in Jersey City.
Photo by Mark Hallum

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey wants to roll out a new tap-and-go fare payment system on its PATH trains similar MTA’s OMNY, allowing interstate straphangers to use their smartphones or contactless bank cards at turnstiles, transit officials announced Monday.

The bi-state agency plans to start rolling out the new technology in 2023 at its 13 stations on both sides of the Hudson River.

“PATH is continually searching for innovative ways to enhance the travel experience for all of our riders,” said PATH General Manager and Director Clarelle DeGraffe in a statement on Nov. 15. “With this new system, we’ll be adopting the most current and effective technology to advance that goal and make for a more seamless experience at the turnstile.”

The Port Authority will contract Cubic Transportation Systems to design and install the new system for $99.4 million if the agency’s board of commissioners approves the request at its monthly meeting Thursday.

The company installed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s OMNY tap-and-go fare system, which has been at all 472 subway stations and aboard all buses since December 2020.

PATH has six stations in Manhattan and seven in the Garden State, and riders can currently use a the system’s own SmartLink tap card or an MTA MetroCard, as long as the latter is pay-per-ride and not an unlimited monthly or weekly pass.

If approved by the board, Cubic will install the new readers as a pilot at some PATH stations in mid-2023 and roll out across the system in the second half of that year.

There will also be a new PATH fare card to replace the SmartLink, which will be phased out in 2024.

MTA’s OMNY accounts for about a quarter of all fares, agency officials said in October, and a $5 OMNY card hit the shelves at private retail stores earlier that month.

The MetroCard is scheduled to phase out in 2023 after a 30-year run.

OMNY doesn’t yet offer weekly or monthly passes, but MTA officials are working out how to introduce so-called fare capping, which allows straphangers unlimited rides if they hit a certain amount of taps in a given timeframe, as is common on other public transit systems, like with London’s Oyster card.