You can now gain entry to any station of the New York City Subway with the tap of a phone, instead of the (famously finicky) swipe of a MetroCard.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced Thursday that it had completed the rollout of tap-to-pay scanners at all subway stations and on all of its buses throughout the city. The MTA has been installing the system, called OMNY, since May 2019 as part of a modernization effort to phase out the plastic MetroCards that have been in use since the ’90s. The new tap-to-pay system is available at 472 stations and on 5,800 buses in total, the MTA said.
Tap-to-pay is supposed to speed up entry into buses and subways and reduce costs throughout the transit system, officials have said. It’s also just meant to be simpler and more modern. Other cities have had tap-to-pay transit systems for years or decades.
For now, you need a phone that supports NFC-based mobile payments in order to use the OMNY system. Later in 2021, the MTA will begin selling tap-to-pay cards that can be used in place of a phone — an important addition since not all riders own a smartphone. Support for reduced fares for senior riders and riders with disabilities will come at some point this year, too.
MetroCards are supposed to be “phased out entirely” by 2023.