According to the New York Times, a committee at the MTA has officially approved a $573 million deal to begin installing a new fare payment system throughout NYC. Passengers will see new contactless electronic readers appear at 500 subway turnstiles and on 600 city buses beginning in late 2018. The upgrades are expected to reach the entire transit system by 2020.
The new readers are said to be similar to those used in London subways. Rather than swipe a card, the devices will allow riders to wave or tap their credit cards, debit cards, or smartphones near a scanner to pay the fare. As noted by the Times, the program will operate through apps like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay.
Officials said the plan is to completely phase out the MetroCard by 2023. Until then, passengers have the option of using the new method or the old-fashioned swipe.
"The digital payment world has moved so quickly in the last 20 years that the M.T.A. has been left completely behind," John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance, told the Times. "Switching to a system that can take advantage of every new innovation that’s yet to come."
The system will also be implemented in the Metro-North and Long Island commuter-railroad systems.