One of the biggest questions about the MTA replacement of Metrocards with the new tap-and-go payment system OMNY is when it will be available for reduced-fare commuters. The short answer is that reduced-fare customers will be using OMNY sometime this summer, but here are some more details about what we know so far.
OMNY is currently available at all subway stations and on all buses, giving commuters time before MetroCards are completely phased out in 2024. Customers can use OMNY either through their smartphones, contactless credit or debit card, smart watch, or an OMNY card.
Currently, around 30% of subway and bus riders are using OMNY. At the end of February, the MTA started a fare-capping pilot, allowing riders to travel for free after their 12th subway or bus trip of the week, Monday through Sunday. The agency says the pilot is a success, with more than 168,000 customers earning free rides, saving over $1 million in fares in the program's first month.
The pilot and its success have made reduced-fare customers more eager to try out OMNY. According to the MTA, the 1 million-plus reduced-fare users, who include senior citizens and people with disabilities, will transition from MetroCards to OMNY in phases.
Currently, there’s a group of reduced-fare customers who are piloting OMNY with both OMNY cards and their own devices or cards, and the agency will use information from that pilot to help guide the reduced-fare rollout.
The MTA is asking that reduced-fare customers fill out this form so they can reach out when OMNY is ready. The reduced-fare customers, who do not need to re-apply to the reduced-fare program, will automatically have the same half-fare benefits they currently use.
The MTA also says more details about how reduced-fare users will be able to switch to OMNY will be released in the spring.