Thursday, October 26, 2017

You only have about 5 more years to use and enjoy the MetroCard

[Image via Cubic]

As you may have heard, the MTA is finally ready to phase out the MetroCard ... and yesterday, the MTA board approved a $500-million-plus contract for a new payment system. Instead of riders swiping their MetroCards, the new system will allow them to use their cellphones or certain types of debit or credit cards to pay their fares directly at turnstiles.

We got a news release about it from Cubic, the company who was awarded the contract, worth $573 million and change.

To the EVG inbox!

The new system allows customers to create personalized transit accounts to see ride history, check balances, add value as well as report lost or stolen cards to protect their funds. They will also have the option of using payment media such as credit and debit cards and mobile devices at the bus or turnstile, instead of purchasing and adding value to a separate fare card, to offer a retail payment experience to transit.

For those customers without a bank card or who prefer not to use one, a contactless card option will still be available with the same account management convenience features. Mobile phones can also be used like ticket vending machines to check account balances and recharge fare accounts anywhere. As a result, customers will experience greater convenience and shorter lines, allowing them to move faster through the transit system.

The initiative will reduce costs for the MTA by significantly reducing the dispensing of fare media, will streamline fare calculation and phase out 20-year-old equipment that is more costly to maintain each year. Ultimately, the new system will provide an enhanced and integrated travel experience across the region including seamless access to Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and Metro-North Rail Road.

Cubic will be responsible for the design, integration, supply and implementation of the new fare payment system; associated services for platform hosting, hardware and software maintenance; and transition services including supplemental call center support. Equipment will include fare validators and new configurable ticket vending machines in the MTA’s 472 subway stations and 6,000 buses. The contract includes an option to support LIRR and Metro-North Rail Road with the purchase of additional validation and vending equipment.

Cubic’s partners statewide will provide manufacturing, call center and marketing services to the MTA. Transport for London (TfL), operator of the world’s largest open payment and contactless-based fare collection system, and Mastercard ... are also Cubic partners in the contract.

Officials say the plan is to fully retire the MetroCard by 2023.

The MetroCard made its debut on Jan. 6, 1994.


The MTA has announced plans to roll out several new features, including barriers to protect riders. As DNAinfo reported, the MTA will test platform safety doors at the L train's Third Avenue station. (These will be similar to those used on the AirTrain to and from JFK.)

The doors are designed to prevent the cars from hitting people who jump or fall onto the tracks. There isn't a timeline for when these might arrive at the Third Avenue stop, per DNAinfo.

Aside from barriers, the MTA debuted foldable seats on the L train that lock into place during rush hour to give riders more standing room. As the Post noted, there were reports that the seats were still locked in during non-rush-hour times.


Anonymous said...

I wonder how this system will work with foreign travelers which make up half the population. It seems a little complicated and is one more thing leaving a digital trail for banks to track while building your consumer profile.

Anonymous said...

This just means the MTA will have an app on your phone draining the battery some more
and possibly gathering more info as to your location, etc.
And ! now no seats/foldable seats on the L train - whoever came up with that
idea obviously does not take the train.

Anonymous said...

No thank-you. I'd rather have a sturdy card I can purchase load that up and us it to travel. What about the poor and elderly who don't or can't afford smart phone? I don't want MTA anywhere near my phone, they can't even get the trains running properly.

equilibrist said...

So what will happen to the unlimited card option? Will it still exist?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else feel that technology is more of a detriment, than being helpful? i miss the old "Y" style tokens.

Gojira said...

Or how senior citizens, often technologically-challenged, will fare? (No pun intended.) And given the capacity for electronic screw-ups, I'm not sanguine - if I had a buck for every time those stupid readers incorrectly double-charged me for transfers, necessitating filling out a form and sending my card in so 4 months later I can get a refund, I'd own shares in Uber.

Anonymous said...

This system also includes cards with RFID chips that can be bought with cash, so riders don't have to use a smartphone or credit card.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. LA has had these cards for years. You tap them as you enter. You don't need a smartphone or credit card. The tap cards as they are called are much sturdier than a metrocard. You buy one for a dollar and keep it for years. It speeds up the process of entering buses. Its much better than a metrocard. The MTA is so far behind other cities. The fact that people in NYC think they have the best subway around is sad. The system is an embarrassment and a disgrace.

The Unknown Perpetrator said...

"Does anyone else feel that technology is more of a detriment, than being helpful?"

In Jacques Ellul's "The Technological Society" Ellul proposes that technology constitutes its own civilization and evolves to serve its own ends. In the dark ages of humanity, which is to say when humanity operated under a more or less spiritual/religious paradigm, we still had to at least pay lip service to concepts such as "fundamental human dignity" even if we fell terribly short of them in practice. Under the Technological Society, or as Aldous Huxley called it, the "Scientific Dictatorship" all questions of humanity, of morals and ethics, are irrelevant; efficiency, perfection, full-spectrum command and control of all systems are the new gospels.

So as for the poor, the elderly, the technologically inept, they have no future here, i.e. get used to saying "It's made from people! Peeeeeople!"

Anonymous said...

Thieves will love everyone whipping out their phones while temporarily trapped in the turnstile. Fish in a barrel.

Anonymous said...

Best of all, the purveyors most likely will collect a transaction fee on every ride. Progress?

Anonymous said...

Similar systems are already in use in lessor cities, it's about time we caught up. There are senior citizens in those cities too. Also, the PATH system already uses a TAP card. Most people on this blog have one use only and that's to complain about every single little thing. Without the internet technology, you would have nothing to do. No well many you would right letters.

aliasfox said...

Systems with tap cards:
- London Subway
- Chicago El
- Washington DC Metro
- Sounds like LA has it

It's about time NYC's subway caught up. Being able to use ones' cell phone is an added bonus to these other systems, rather than a handicap that must be used.

I for one look forward to tapping my wallet at a turnstile, rather than having to take it out, fumble for some laminated paper, and pray that it reads when I try to swipe (and don't get smacked in the balls by the turnstile when it doesn't read).

Spike said...

Crikey! London's tap technology debuted 14 years ago. Considering we're just getting displays for next arriving trains in all stations now, I'd say we're finally entering the 21st century! Go MTA!

Giovanni said...

They should bring back tokens too, I still have some of those tiny 20 cent tokens, and the 50 centers with the Y shaped hole in the middle which you could wear on a necklace. Every tme there was a fare hike everyone would run out and get as many 10 packs as possible, until the MTA started limiting purchases and changing the tokens over to those supposedly counterfeit-proof bullet tokens. Kids at school would sell each other metal slugs for 5 cents apiece to use on the weekends and summer when subway passes were not in use, or when you lost your monthly pass. Foreign coins like Greek drachmas also worked sometimes. And when you went through the turnstile there was a coin return that always had a nickel, dime, slug or a token that fell though. Now many of the token booth clerks are gone, Soon the subways will be operated by robots, and Amazon will probably be using some trains for deliveries. Next stop, oblivion.

Anonymous said...

Finally. I agree with the last commenter. It is time we enter into the 21st century. As someone who's visited London several times, their system on the Tube is fantastic. It's efficient, clean, and has nicer seats. Before you exit the Tube, you must also tap again. One has to wonder with all of the hikes and increases in the several years, where did all of the money go to? Why wasn't this done earlier?

Technology can enhance our lives at times. And I also believe closed partitions on the platform is wonderful. It would greatly diminish suicides and homicides.

Also, many poor and homeless people have smartphones. This is NYC. Let's get on board, people.

Anonymous said...

@4:46pm: You're looking forward to having your wallet OUT and in your hand every single time you enter the subway system or board a bus? You must not value what's in your wallet very much!

Why would you want to put all your credit cards, ID's, cash, etc. at risk by having to take your wallet out in a crowded public location? (Or conversely, having to take your wallet out late at night in a very empty public location?) It's just too easy for someone to grab it & run.

Anonymous said...

This convenience will come at a cost. Once they put in these card readers where you have to swipe to get in and out of the station, the MTA will be able to increase fares for longer rides and for rush hour. In London they charge you by the distance of the ride based on zones, and also charge different fares for peak and off peak travel, so there is no flat rate pricing, So it will probably soon cost more to take the L train 1 stop to Brooklyn than to take the train to Harlem or Washington Heights, unless they spilt Manhattan into 2 or more zones. In the end, this is just another way to get rid of more MTA employees and to get more money out of riders.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to use a credit card or debit card or take out a smartphone or wallet to pay for a fare, and I don't want my rides being tracked.

If I can fill up the contactless card using cash, cool. I'm cool with the contactless card, especially if I have to buy just one. Something tells me these contactless cards will have an expiration date just like the Metro Card which is a ripoff and I think a transportation tax.

As for the clown from LA (10:53) saying our transportation system is "an embarrassment and a disgrace", it is not. It is the most thorough public transportation system in the country if not the world. Your system in LA is crap compared to ours because your city still worships the car.

Scuba Diva said...

At 11:01, The Unknown Perpetrator said:

In Jacques Ellul's "The Technological Society" Ellul proposes that technology constitutes its own civilization and evolves to serve its own ends.

I'm reminded of The Talking Asshole in Naked Lunch.

Anonymous said...

You can call me a clown but I stand by my statement. The' most thorough ' is an interesting comment. Considering all the delays and construction and the L train shutdown how thorough is it? Why are people so thin skinned and defensive? You're aware of a place called America? It's west of the Hudson. Lots of cities there have pubic transit. Ever been to London or Tokyo or Moscow or Mexico City? Clean timely efficient train service exists all over the world. When NYC catches up to Mexico City you can boast about the system. Perhaps it's time that the self proclaimed best city in the world got with the program. Oh and watch out for the homeless guy sleeping umder your seat. SMH.

Scuba Diva said...

At 12:24, Anonymous said:

If I can fill up the contactless card using cash, cool. I'm cool with the contactless card, especially if I have to buy just one.

We are hurtling toward a cashless society, like it or not. Brace yourself.

Warren de la Rue said...

Day in the Life of an EV Grieve Post:

Q: How many people does it take to change a light bulb in the East Village?


1 to change the light bulb and to post that the light bulb has been changed.
11 to share similar experiences of changing light bulbs and how the light bulb could have been changed differently.

9 to caution about the dangers of changing light bulbs.

15 purists who use candles and are offended by light bulb discussions.

8 to argue over whether it's 'lightbulb' or 'light bulb'.

Another 6 to condemn those 9 as stupid.

22 to tell THOSE 6 to stop being jackasses.

3 industry professionals to inform the group that the proper term is 'lamp'.

15 know-it-alls who claim they were in the industry, and that 'light bulb' is perfectly correct.

14 commenting that they saw a light bulb went out in their building or a store just now.

6 commenting that a lamp post on a street just went out

37 to say that Edison invented the light bulb

28 to say that, no, Westinghouse invented the light bulb

15 to say that neither: Edison stole the idea form someone else and just first to patent it

19 to post that this blog is about the East Village and not about light bulbs and to please take this discussion to a light bulb group.

11 to defend the posting to this group saying that we all use light bulbs and therefore the posts are relevant here.

16 to post 'like or nailed it!'.

36 to debate which method of changing light bulbs is superior, where to buy the best light bulbs, what brand of light bulbs work best for this technique and what brands are faulty.

7 to ask if the brands of light bulbs used are worth the money.

79 to tell them that if they don't like light bulbs, then move to ________.

5 people to comment on their experience of using light bulbs.

15 people to post "I can't see S$%^!" under the light bulbs they're while reading the post

7 to post URL's where one can see examples of different light bulbs.

32 to debate the ethics of responsibly sourced lightbulbs

4 to post that the URL's were posted incorrectly and then post the corrected URL's.
13 to comment "Me too".

5 to post that they will no longer comment here or are leaving because they cannot handle the fucking light bulb controversy.

6 to report the post to Grieve or the admin because someone said 'fuck'.

22 to ask if there is a flounce in progress.

8 to comment that they are offended by this post or someone else's comment.

4 to say "Didn't we go through this already a short time ago?".

13 to say "Do a search on light bulbs before posting questions about light bulbs".
1 to bring politics into the discussion by adding that (insert politician of choice) isn't the brightest bulb.

4 more to get into personal attacks over their political views.

5 commenters banned by the admin because they took the light bulb post all too seriously.

2 late arrivals to comment on the original post 3 years later and start it all over again.

Anonymous said...

No we're not Scuba Diva. They're just using scare tactics to get all of us to use credit and debit cards thus drive up our individual debt (credit card) and make us bad with budgeting (debit card) from using just them. Spend more than you can afford and when you shouldn't is their mantra.

Yo 1:00pm (LA Boy Who Hates NYC) I love how you're deflecting to London, Moscow, Toyko, and Mexico City and not defending your city's skimpy subway system relative to its population and metro population (largest or second largest in the country.) NYC is part of America, NYC hater (what you are since you wanna to run your keyboard mouth about how NYC is not part of America when it is with your little jab) and since you wanna talk about west of the Hudson, yeah lots of cities have public transit systems and they all suck compared to NYC's. I've rode the Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia systems and New York's subway system buries all three, and those are the best ones after NYC. It also buries the systems in Washington DC, Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Milwaukee, and Atlanta.

'Love the New York Post-reading Trump supporter "joke" about homeless people on the subway. How 'bout you go back to LA if you don't like NY, Randy Newman?

London? I don't like how they charge more money the longer your ride, sorry. Mexico City? Crime left and right, so no go, sorry. Tokyo? Sardine Central and I'm not a sardine, sorry. Moscow? I'm not giving a dime to Putin, sorry. This is based on what people who have rode those systems told me. NYC doesn't charge more the longer your ride. NYC subway crime is the lowest in decades. NYC can get sardine can-ey but that's part of life here. NYC subway fares do not go into Putin's coffers.

Our system has to handle not only 8.5M people but more than that when you factor in commuters and tourists, and I'd say it does an overall solid job. If you don't think so, then whatever. Maybe get a job in LA so you can ride the LA system moreover Mr.It's Better Elsewhere (when it's not or you would be elsewhere wouldn't you?) You know NY is where it's at. Deal with the subway bro/sis.

Giovanni said...

@ Warren de la Rue (The, ahem, astronomer. We know who you are.) Here’s the TL;DR version: Complain about other complainers by posting a mile-long cranky laundry list of complaints about people who post their complaints, because there’s nothing EV Greve likes more than reading endless complaints about other complainers.