Donate

First Look At The Smartphone App That Will Kill The MetroCard

Dashed Arrow Stephen Nessen / Gothamist

Reporters and investors got a first peek at the app the MTA will use when it begins replacing the MetroCard next year.

The company Cubic, which created the current MetroCard system, has been hired again to bring New York a customized app and scanner, similar to what's already being used in Chicago and will be similar to systems used in Vancouver and London.

The company demoed its latest app, which will be released first in Chicago, at an "investor day" on the New York Stock exchange on Wednesday.

"The whole purpose of this app is it becomes your single tool to navigate your city," Robert Sprogis, Cubic Global Product Developer for mobile, said.

Sprogis said each city can customize which features it wants to add. Chicago, for example, will show subway, and bus options, schedules, as well as how many bikes at your closest bike share dock are available. The MTA said details about a possible integration with Citi Bike were still “TBD.”

The MTA signed a $573 million contract with Cubic last November. It plans to install 500 electric readers at 500 turnstiles and on 600 buses starting next May. And the entire system is expected to be converted to the new system by 2023.

The first wave of subway turnstiles will support smart phones and cards with NFC. But the contactless pay technology is expected to eventually support Apple Pay, Google Pay, and RFID.

Matthew Cole, President of Cubic Transportation Systems, is confident that his latest technology will be durable enough to withstand the daily battering New Yorkers inflict on subway stations.

"We have systems out in the world that have been standing up to the test of time and the environment for a long time. You don't have to look to far from here to see the MetroCard system, which perhaps is a really great example of that, which has been operating after a couple of decades and handling millions and millions of journeys every single day," he said.

When a reporter arched his eyebrow and reminded him of the daily vitriol he's witnessed being hurled at the MetroCard machines with broken credit card readers, or turnstiles that refuse to read cards after repeated swipes, Cole didn't bother defending it.

"Sounds like you're going to be an early adopter of the new system," he said.

Buckle up; here's a look at the app in action:

And here's a reminder to enjoy making precious memories with your MetroCard while you still can:

Featured in News