By: Nick Gambino
This Friday, New York subway commuters using the 4, 5 and 6 lines will be able to swipe through turnstiles using Apple Pay on their iPhone or Apple Watch with the new OMNY (One Metro New York) contactless pay system.
The system is extremely easy to use. Simply walk up to it, hold your iPhone or Apple Watch up to the display and in an instant, it’ll let you through with a beep and a large “Go.” While it might take a bit for everyone to get on board, this should speed up things in the long run.
As a native New Yorker, navigating my way through the sometimes complex and always nasty subway system is in my blood. While I’ve mastered the art of breezing through the city’s number one mode of public transportation, one thing I absolutely hate with every fiber in my body is the dreaded MetroCard.
This flimsy, sorry-excuse for an entry pass was introduced in the 90s as a more efficient and “cutting-edge” way to swipe through turnstiles. Well, this lame piece of unreliable plastic has been anything but that over the last 20+ years.
Even the most veteran MetroCard users still have trouble swiping through without turning up a “Swipe Again” error message. This is due in large part to the flimsy nature of the pass and the fact that you are required to swipe it like a credit card, despite it being nothing like a credit card in build.
This little, inefficient, life-draining poser makes me, and I’m sure most others, long for the days of tokens. I often dream of the sweet sound of clinking metal as those wondrous easy-to-use superior forms of currency drop effortlessly into the token slot, allowing me access to the bowels of the Big Apple’s underground train system.
While I’m under no delusion that we’ll ever return to a token system, I’m a-ok with any system that replaces the MetroCard. To start, Apple Pay will only be available for stations on the 4, 5 and 6 lines between Grand Central Station and Atlantic Ave-Barclays Center as well as all Staten Island buses.
Unfortunately for those who are avid commuters with monthly passes, this option is not available yet. It currently only supports payment for single ride passes. But if this OMNY pay system proves successful (which it undoubtedly will), we’ll see a system-wide rollout by 2020 and a complete replacement of the MetroCard by 2024. It can’t come soon enough.