You're one step closer to simply flicking your subcutaneous RFID hand implant in the general direction of a subway scanner/data harvester and gliding aboard a high-speed MTA monorail to the stars. The MTA will begin a gradual four-year phase out of the MetroCard next year, and now the first photos of a turnstile with a cardless scanner — like this one at Penn Station—have been popping up on Facebook and Instagram this week.
The MTA's forthcoming contactless turnstile system will support a custom smartphone app and cards with NFC technology. The app and interface are being designed by Cubic, which was awarded a $573 million contract to roll out the program last November.
The scanners will be installed at 500 turnstiles and on 600 buses starting next May, and eventually accept both Apple Pay and Google Pay. The MTA expects conctactless payment to be system-wide by 2023, by which time the MetroCard will be as quaint as a subway token.
The MTA began testing the contactless turnstiles last fall in select stations including Grand Central, Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center, 14th Street-Seventh Avenue, and Penn Station. These pilot turnstile scanners only work with the MTA's eTix app, which is meant to connect Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North, and subway riders. An MTA spokesperson confirmed that the scanners are being used for an employee-only pilot that is currently underway.