MetroCards To Be Retired by 2019

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Those shiny yellow MetroCards, precious keys to the subways gates, are on their way out. By 2019, the MTA wants to get rid of their current MetroCard system, which is expensive to maintain and inefficient pretty generally. So the agency is about to begin requesting proposals to a new kind of payment system, one that would allow you to enter the subway without needing a separate card or token or whathaveyou.

Adam Lisberg, a spokesman for the MTA, noted to WNYC that the main thing is that the agency “wants to get out of the business of issuing the fare payment mechanism.” But cutting out that middle part isn’t more than an idea yet. “We want to be able to adapt to what customers want,” Lisberg said. Examples of the payment system could include tapping a credit card with a chip in it to the turnstile, or swiping a barcode on your smart phone.

That new system isn’t going to be cheap or easy, though. Outfitting the 468 subways stations in the city with a new kind of payment system might cost around $450 million (or, knowing the MTA, much more than that). But all going to plan, come 2020, those shiny yellow cards are going to be mere novelty items.

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