New York City public transportation fare collection system lags behind third world countries.

New York City public transportation fare collection system lags behind third world countries.

Hillary Clinton, who had to swipe 5 times in a row to enter the subway in New York City during her presidential campaign in 2016.

MetroCard System

One of the greatest symbols of the outdated system is the MetroCard — the flimsy fare card that was introduced a quarter-century ago.

Plans to replace the MetroCard over the last decade have been mired in delays — and costs have soared — even as other cities adopted more durable tap cards. Washington’s subway introduced its SmarTrip card two decades ago, and Hong Kong has the Octopus card 30 years ago.

OMNY System

OMNY is being put in place by Cubic, a payments company behind the MetroCard and that oversaw London’s fare system. The project is expected to cost about $644 million — $200 million more than what the authority estimated in 2016.

The agency will offer a physical OMNY card in 2021, and the MetroCard will meet its demise in 2023. Subway officials say there will always be a cash option for New Yorkers who do not have bank cards or smartphones.

The idea has progressed in fits and starts. A decade ago, the authority’s chairman, Jay Walder, had wanted to bring “tap-and-go” cards to New York after he implemented the Oyster card in London. Officials wanted to phase out the MetroCard as early as 2012, but it did not happen, in part because credit card companies were slow to make their cards compatible.

The conclusion

New York City does not learn the financial model which Hong Kong adopted more than 30 years ago and the Octopus Card in Hong Kong is the most success cashless payment from public transportation to the retail market.

It is very important to understand the relationship among all stakeholders in the automatic fare collection system. It is so obvious that the biggest winner for the new OMNY system is the credit card issuers because they will earn the transaction fee without investment and the biggest loser is the New York City government who has to pay US$ 644 million without any financial benefits at all.

The writer has over 19 years of experience in the related industry. To learn more about the latest mobile technology for automatic fare collection system, please visit