And that means, the end of the MetroCard is near.
The MTA first announced the news in late 2020, when they shared that they finished the OMNY roll-out right on schedule, even with the pandemic. And now, with a retrospective on NYC’s iconic MetroCard machines rolling out to mark their last year in subway stations, it has been revealed that the full switch-over of MetroCard machines to OMNY vending machines will take place by the end of 2023. Though, as you’ll see below, New Yorkers will have a little more time to hang on to the classic yellow cards themselves.
OMNY was officially launched in May of 2019, and since then has reached 500 million “taps.” Customers can simply tap their bank cards or phones (that have digital wallets) on the OMNY reader as they enter the station, instead of having to buy a MetroCard from the machine and add money to it. They claim it’s more convenient for riders, plus more environmentally-friendly.
The completed “phase 1” of the multi-year OMNY project includes over 15,000 OMNY readers at all 472 stations, on all 5,800 buses and at Staten Island Railway. Next is Metro North and the LIRR, which are currently in the process of being installed with OMNY. The MTA also initiated a marketing program called “Tap On, Get On,” that helps educate New Yorkers on exactly how the process works.
For those who do not have a smartphone, they will be able to purchase an OMNY card – a contactless fare card – at retail locations like CVS/Walgreens and vending machines within stations which will roll out starting next year. They will also be available to purchase with cash, for those without credit cards. The MTA has also already begun to introduce reduced fares for senior customers and riders with disabilities and integrating OMNY with paratransit services.
So what does that mean for our classic yellow NYC MetroCards? Originally the MTA said they would be phased out by 2023, but now the date has been moved to some time in 2024 due to delays caused by software issues (so you won’t be forced to switch to OMNY and can still use the cards until then).
So you might not want to throw out your expired cards just yet, they may soon be a relic!