We knew the day was coming, but man has 2024 crept up on us! The MTA announced their plan to phase out the MetroCard by 2024 in late 2020 after completing the OMNY roll out on schedule. From then on, shiny new OMNY vending machines have begun to arrive in stations with the intention to fully replace the traditional MetroCard vending machines until they’re completely extinct!
Sure, MetroCards weren’t the first way to pay for public transit in NYC—there of course was a time when nickels and dimes were accepted forms of fare payment, followed by the introduction of the token in 1953—yet, it’s still with a heavy heart that we’ll have to give up the once revolutionary MetroCard.
So what will a world without MetroCards look like? For one, OMNY will rule. That means tap-and-go payments will be all the rage. We’ve already seen it with Airtrain JFK and OMNY readers at every subway station. MTA claims that OMNY payment will provide a more convenient rider experience.
For passengers without smartphones or credit cards, contactless fare cards will be available for purchase at the new OMNY vending machines and cash will still be accepted. People can additionally purchase and reload their OMNY cards (if they choose to or cannot use a smartphone/credit card) at participating Walgreens, CVS, 7-Eleven, CFSC Check Cashing, and Payomatic stores.
New York isn’t the first city to introduce contactless payment to their transit system. London, Tokyo, Shanghai, Sydney and others have already rolled out such technology years prior.
As for what programs and structures the MTA will introduce upon full fare replacement is for the future to tell. Most recently, the MTA launched fare-capping in 2022. Once a rider pays for 12 fares in a seven-day period, the rest of their rides that week are free. The possible programs to begin beyond fare-capping once OMNY is in full swing are endless.
And before we get all nostalgic about the good ‘ole MetroCard days, it’s important to note that the 2024 replacement date isn’t completely set in stone, as MTA Chair Janno Lieber said “[the MTA is] not setting a drop-dead date for pulling back on MetroCard…[they won’t] pull the plug on MetroCard at any date that we’ve set at this time,” in a meeting from 2023. Until the OMNY project is fully complete, the MetroCard will remain operational.