What with fare hikes, token booth closings, and the crazy budget gap looming, the MTA is MTA is considering bringing smart cards to our subways and buses. Gothamist liked how the area newspapers tried to make it easier for people to understand what smart cards were by comparing them to E-Z Pass or Mobil Speedpass - cards with a microchip that stores information. The upside of Smart Card is that it would take one sixth of the time to go through turnstiles and pass bus fareboxes. Smart Cards also require less maintenance, and even though the set-up expenses are high. Also, Smart Cards last longer (up to five years, versus the MetroCards which expire or are invalid, depending on what kind of MetroCards you get). Newsday reports that the MTA put aside almost $44 million towards the testing out Smart Cards, though some worry the "tepid support" around the effort might make doom the project. Gothamist hopes that we can use Smart Cards one day, because swiping through the turnstile and not realizing the card wasn't read correctly can hurt.

Smart Card technology is already used in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, not to mention the PATH. And in Hong Kong, their smart card for the subway and bus systems, the Octopus Card, can be used to buy goods, like bread from the bakery by the subway station. How Stuff Works on smart cards.