No more fumbling for MetroCards or quarters—straphangers can now use the OMNY contactless payment system at every subway station and on all MTA buses in New York City.
The MTA announced Thursday the complete systemwide rollout of OMNY, which stands for One Metro New York. It was finished on time and on budget -- even with the pandemic forcing a 43-daylong pause on installations this year.
While the default MetroCards and other methods of payment are still accepted, the OMNY system is growing in popularity—the MTA said more than 35 million taps have been recorded since they started installing the system in May 2019.
New York City Transit’s Interim President Sarah Feinberg said the OMNY system has “obvious benefits” for a “post-COVID New York.”
“This project is fundamentally also about bringing a critical part of our system into the 21st century,” she said at a press conference Thursday. “Tap and go means no more failed swipes no more losing your MetroCard. Just bring your own device and you can enter the system with ease.”
MTA New Fare Payment Executive Al Putre hailed the accomplishment with gusto at the press conference: “It’s OMNY time,” he cheered, and later demonstrated using his smartphone to pay and enter a turnstile.
In an interview with Fox 5 Thursday, Putre said he believes New Yorkers will eventually embrace the OMNY system much as they did when MetroCards were first introduced in 1994.
“I got three decades plus experience in this line of work. I was here for tokens. When we introduced MetroCards, there were folks that didn't want to give up their 10 packs, their five borough tokens, if you remember,” he said. “But you know what, it was easy to transition away from tokens, the convenience factor of MetroCard versus tokens was tremendous. And now OMNY versus MetroCard is even better. it's just so simple.”
The current OMNY system only accepts single full fare rides. The MTA said the next phase will introduce the full slate of fare options and programs, including reduced fares for seniors and customers with disabilities and student fares. The OMNY readers work with contactless credit cards and digital wallets.
Later this year, the MTA plans to introduce OMNY cards for riders who want to use the system and pay in cash. The plan is to phase out MetroCards completely by 2023.