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New York City is planning to replace its existing MetroCard transit payment system with electronic card readers that will allow New Yorkers to pay their subway and bus fares using Apple Pay, reports The New York Times.

A committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority this morning approved a $573 million contract for a payment system that mirrors the one in use for the London Underground and commuter railroads in London.

metrocard.jpg
Image via The New York Times

Starting in late 2018, NFC-based electronic readers will be installed in 500 subway turnstiles and 600 buses, with rollout expanding to all subway stations and buses by late 2020. Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay will work with the new system, as will contactless credit and debit cards that have an embedded NFC chip.

While the new system will replace the MetroCard, New York City will not phase out MetroCards entirely until 2023. Until then, the two systems will co-exist.

Article Link: New York City Plans to Replace Transit MetroCard With Electronic Card Readers That Support Apple Pay
 

frozen220

macrumors member
Jun 29, 2007
93
165
So does this mean that sometime in 2023 you have to have a smartphone to use the subway? If not, would you need to purchase a standalone NFC capable MetroCard of some kind? Wonder how much that'll cost.
 
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ignatius345

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Aug 20, 2015
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I sure hope they put the emphasis on speed here. When a metrocard is swiped correctly, you barely have to break your stride at all to go through.

If this takes even a couple seconds to register, it's going to slow things down horribly. I mean, aside from your occasional tourist or newbie who hasn't gotten the hang of swiping, or the odd card or turnstile malfunction, people do it very fast.
 
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frozen220

macrumors member
Jun 29, 2007
93
165
Exactly how Chicago, Philly, and London does it. You’d buy a $5 NFC plastic card if you don’t want to use your phone.
Gotcha. This article didn't go that far. Also, make me wonder... Here in Atlanta MARTA has been using NFC cards for many years (at least 7+ years), yet we still to this day can not use our smartphones/Apple Pay. I am confused on how that is the case.
 

ignatius345

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Aug 20, 2015
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So does this mean that sometime in 2023 you have to have a smartphone to use the subway? If not, would you need to purchase a standalone NFC capable MetroCard of some kind? Wonder how much that'll cost.
I'd just as soon see them spend the money on upgrading track infrastructure, myself.
 
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BonchaDotCom

macrumors newbie
Sep 17, 2014
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I just got back from a trip to Taiwan where they use EasyCard, an NFC card that costs about $3US. I was able to tap right through the turnstiles no problem at all, I think this update to NYC's MTA system will be fantastic. Additionally, I was also able to use the EasyCard to pay for a taxi ride, a trip on the bus, a ride up and down the gondola and even buy some tea at a 7-11... the scope of adoption to this form of payment was quite prevalent, especially coming from the US where NFC has barely gotten off the ground.
 

petsounds

macrumors 65816
Jun 30, 2007
1,483
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Typical NYC project, taking five years (probably extended to 10) to roll out a system upgrade and meanwhile you have to juggle both MetroCards and NFC payments.
 
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Le Big Mac

macrumors 68030
Jan 7, 2003
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Washington, DC
Welcome to 2003, New York!

Good lord, indeed. I can't believe they are only now thinking about upgrading from those cards, which mysteriously expire every ~18 months.

DC's Metro, hardly a bastion of advanced planning and forward thinking, finally ditched paper farecards, 15 years after adopting electronic fare cards to work side by side.
 

dontwalkhand

macrumors 603
Jul 5, 2007
5,807
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Phoenix, AZ
Good lord, indeed. I can't believe they are only now thinking about upgrading from those cards, which mysteriously expire every ~18 months.

DC's Metro, hardly a bastion of advanced planning and forward thinking, finally ditched paper farecards, 15 years after adopting electronic fare cards to work side by side.
Good lord, indeed. I can't believe they are only now thinking about upgrading from those cards, which mysteriously expire every ~18 months.

DC's Metro, hardly a bastion of advanced planning and forward thinking, finally ditched paper farecards, 15 years after adopting electronic fare cards to work side by side.
We are still waiting on Northern California to get rid of paper, despite having electronic fare cards for many years.
 
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steve knight

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Jan 28, 2009
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in portland we had a pass that would show on the phone finally they have a nfc card or you can pay with your phone. They are working on software that lets your phone become the card.
 

Le Big Mac

macrumors 68030
Jan 7, 2003
2,704
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Washington, DC
We are still waiting on Northern California to get rid of paper, despite having electronic fare cards for many years.

Getting rid of the paper doesn't really matter so long as the electronic cards can be used everywhere. In fact, for visitors to DC the paper cards were better because you didn't have to buy a farecard separately (they charge a bit for them)
 

Ted13

macrumors 6502a
Dec 29, 2003
632
335
NYC
I sure hope they put the emphasis on speed here. When a metrocard is swiped correctly, you barely have to break your stride at all to go through.

If this takes even a couple seconds to register, it's going to slow things down horribly. I mean, aside from your occasional tourist or newbie who hasn't gotten the hang of swiping, or the odd card or turnstile malfunction, people do it very fast.
"occasional tourist" - New York City receives over 60 million foreign and American tourists each year. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_New_York_City

"When a metrocard is swiped correctly, you barely have to break your stride at all to go through." I'd say 50% of the time if you "swipe correctly" - the rest is multiswipes, frustration and/or waiting for the person in front of you to swipe over and over or go through 5 different MetroCards to figure out which one didn't expire.

Apple Pay will be a HUGE improvement in turnstiles over MetroCards
 

Ted13

macrumors 6502a
Dec 29, 2003
632
335
NYC
Typical NYC project, taking five years (probably extended to 10) to roll out a system upgrade and meanwhile you have to juggle both MetroCards and NFC payments.
I don't remember switching from one token to another or from tokens to MetroCards not working out right away. Don't see why Apple Pay will be any different
 

ignatius345

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Aug 20, 2015
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"occasional tourist" - New York City receives over 60 million foreign and American tourists each year. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_New_York_City
We are all too aware, thanks. But most tourists are going to stand, disoriented and in the way, everywhere they go no matter what, and this isn't about them.
I'd say 50% of the time if you "swipe correctly" - the rest is multiswipes, frustration ir waiting for the person in front of you to swipe over and over or go through 5 different MetroCards to figure out which one didn't expire

If HALF of your swipes are going south, then I don't know what to tell you except maybe try to stop doing it wrong? Stand and watch people going through the turnstile sometime for a few minutes while you're waiting for your train, and then get back here and say again that half of people take more than one pass through to get in.

Yeah, people not knowing which card to use is super frustrating. And the lame part about Metrocards has always been the total lack of human readability of what (if any) value is loaded on the card. That was the beauty of the token: its value was unambiguous and universally recognized.

But if people start relying on their phones' NFC functions -- at least as they're currently designed -- do you honestly think that won't be replaced with "my phone is frozen" or "my battery ran out" or "there's potato chip grease on my finger and I'm gonna stand here in the turnstile trying to unlock my phone" or god knows what? If so, I've got a bridge to sell you...
 
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zorinlynx

macrumors 604
May 31, 2007
7,014
12,584
Florida, USA
One advantage of the way MetroCard is designed is you can swipe your card as you walk through the turnstile, allowing large groups of people to move through quickly once they know to have their card out and ready (which you learn quickly, even a visitor to the city like myself)

Do we really want people fumbling with their phones trying to Touch ID to go through the turnstile? This will slow things down quite a bit compared to the current system.

A plain NFC card is fine. Requiring people to unlock their phones with TouchID (or even worse, FaceID) will slow down the crowds too much.
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My point is that the act of swiping can be very very fast. If HALF of your swipes are going south, then I don't know what to tell you except maybe do it better? Stand and watch people going through the turnstile sometime for a few minutes while you're waiting for your train, and then get back here and say again that half of people take more than one pass through to get in.

I know, right? I don't even live there; I just visit, and I rarely have issues with Metrocards. You learn how to walk-and-swipe fairly quickly, at least in my experience.
 

CarpalMac

macrumors 68000
Nov 19, 2012
1,548
3,734
UK
That's great, hopefully they can also find the money to get in some cleaners for the stations and platforms. Having been to Hong Kong where even people are paid to stand there sanitising the escalator handrails, the NYC metro is frankly embarrassing by comparison.
 
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