NYC: MTA Continues Phased Rollout of OMNY System to Replace Metrocard

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In four years time the Metrocard, which debuted in 1993 and replaced the subway token, will also become a thing of the past, once the MTA completes its rollout of OMNY, its new contactless fare payment system.

OMNY lets riders pay their fares with digital wallets and contactless credit and debit cards. The public pilot was kicked off at a public event May 31 at the Bowling Green station in Lower Manhattan. OMNY is the first transit agency that will launch with an open loop contactless payment system, meaning customers never need to wait in line to buy a fare card. They simply use the device of their choice and seamlessly enter the system. In time, OMNY will allow customers to pay their fares on subways, buses and the two commuter rails using the same payment method.

OMNY lets riders pay their fare and enter the subway or bus by simply tapping contactless credit, debit, and reloadable prepaid cards, mobile phones, smart watches, and other wearable devices. OMNY will eventually provide a seamless payment system across the MTA’s subways, buses, and two commuter railroads. MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye called the innovation, "a huge step on a journey to bring our fare payment system into the modern era, allowing for a better customer experience for millions of MTA riders and employees. The MTA team responsible for getting this critical project off the ground deserves a huge thank you from all New Yorkers. As of today, completion of Phase One of OMNY is on budget, and on schedule.”

“The significance of moving to a modern fare payment system cannot be overstated,” New York City Transit President Andy Byford, said. “Eventually, OMNY will help ease congestion in the system, reduce a host of technical challenges associated with the MetroCard, and make our system easier and more intuitive for the tens of millions of New Yorkers and tourists who ride with the MTA each year. I’m eager to continue rolling out this easy-to-use technology to all remaining subway stations and bus routes in the next 18 months.”

MTA executives marked the beginning of the gradual rollout of OMNY by joining several students from Transit Tech High School as well as leaders from Cubic Transportation Systems, which is helping build OMNY, for a demonstration of the new system on the lower mezzanine of the Bowling Green Station. 

"In the more than three decades that I've worked here to improve processing customer payments, from tokens to MetroCards, I can truly say that OMNY will be transformative for our customers as well as our organization," Alan Putre, OMNY Program Executive, said. "Our customers can pay for transit the same way they pay for any other products or services now. The technology will allow us to serve our customers in new and better ways, while continuing to provide travel access and support all of our special fare program customers."

The public pilot phase of the OMNY rollout, which runs through the end of 2019, will allow the MTA to ensure that all systems are fully functional and that any issues are identified and improved upon prior to continuing the rollout of OMNY readers to the rest of the system. 

Completion of the entire OMNY project in 2023 will let customers choose how, when and where they pay for their fares. There will be a new OMNY app which will provide seamless fare payment between the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North services and subway and bus services, as well as the introduction of the OMNY card to support customers who prefer to fund fares with cash. Eventually, the system will accommodate the migration of all current unlimited ride pass and other special fare products over to the OMNY environment and the option to purchase fare products online or in stations and new machines. A closed-loop OMNY card will be sold in stations at retail stores beginning in 2021, so cash will always be an option.

During the MTA’s rollout of the OMNY contactless readers and continued expansion of OMNY services between 2019 and 2023, riders can still use MetroCard and eTix. The public pilot phase of the rollout brings OMNY contactless payments to all Staten Island MTA buses and at all subway station entrances on the 456 lines between Grand Central-42 St and Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center. Initially, OMNY will support a full-fare, pay-per-ride option until all subway stations and bus routes are equipped with the new technology. Customers have the ability to access their trip history by registering for an OMNY account at omny.info. 

“Cubic has enjoyed a long and strong partnership with the MTA and today we’re pleased to see New York taking the first major step towards a fully operational mobile-enabled and contactless fare payment system leveraging our technologies,” Matt Cole, president of Cubic Transportation Systems, said. “We’re excited to see New Yorkers begin to use the new technology that will simplify their journeys and make their payment experience seamless.”

All remaining bus routes, subway stations, and Staten Island Railway locations will be equipped by late 2020. OMNY is expected to be enabled for LIRR and Metro-North Railroad by early 2021. Between 2021 and 2023, the MTA will support all remaining fare options, introduce the OMNY Card in retail locations throughout the New York region, and install new vending machines at locations throughout the system. 

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