The MTA today announced the launch of OMNY, its new contactless fare payment system, allowing riders to pay their fares with digital wallets and contactless credit and debit cards. The public pilot was kicked off at a public event this afternoon at the Bowling Green station in Lower Manhattan.
MTA executives marked the beginning of the gradual rollout of OMNY by joining several students from Transit Tech High School as well as leaders from Cubic Transportation Systems, wich is helping build OMNY, for a demonstration of the new system on the lower mezzanine of the Bowling Green Station.
OMNY is a first-of-its-kind system that lets riders pay their fare and enter the subway or bus by simply tapping contactless credit, debit, and reloadable prepaid cards, mobile phones, smart watches, and other wearable devices. OMNY will eventually provide a seamless payment system across the MTA’s subways, buses, and two commuter railroads.
OMNY is the first transit agency that will launch with an open loop contactless payment system, meaning customers never need to wait in line to buy a fare card. They simply use the device of their choice and seamlessly enter the system. In time, OMNY will allow customers to pay their fares on subways, buses and the two commuter rails using the same payment method.
“Today marks a huge step on a journey to bring our fare payment system into the modern era, allowing for a better customer experience for millions of MTA riders and employees,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye. “The MTA team responsible for getting this critical project off the ground deserves a huge thank you from all New Yorkers. As of today, completion of Phase One of OMNY is on budget, and on schedule.”
“The significance of moving to a modern fare payment system cannot be overstated,” said New York City Transit President Andy Byford. “Eventually, OMNY will help ease congestion in the system, reduce a host of technical challenges associated with the MetroCard, and make our system easier and more intuitive for the tens of millions of New Yorkers and tourists who ride with the MTA each year. I’m eager to continue rolling out this easy-to-use technology to all remaining subway stations and bus routes in the next 18 months.”
“In the more than three decades that I’ve worked here to improve processing customer payments, from tokens to MetroCards, I can truly say that OMNY will be transformative for our customers as well as our organization,” said Alan Putre, OMNY Program Executive. “Our customers can pay for transit the same way they pay for any other products or services now. The technology will allow us to serve our customers in new and better ways, while continuing to provide travel access and support all of our special fare program customers.”
The public pilot phase of the OMNY rollout, which runs through the end of 2019, will allow the MTA to ensure that all systems are fully functional and that any issues are identified and improved upon prior to continuing the rollout of OMNY readers to the rest of the system.
Completion of the entire OMNY project in 2023 will empower customers to choose how, when and where they pay for their fares. OMNY will provide more robust customer service, including a new OMNY app which will provide seamless fare payment between the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North services and subway and bus services, as well as the introduction of the OMNY card to support customers who prefer to fund fares with cash. Eventually, the system will accommodate the migration of all current unlimited ride pass and other special fare products over to the OMNY environment and the option to purchase fare products online or in stations and new machines A closed-loop OMNY card will be sold in stations at a robust network of retail stores beginning in 2021, so cash will always be an option.
During the MTA’s rollout of the OMNY contactless readers and continued expansion of OMNY services between 2019 and 2023, riders can still use MetroCard and eTix.
The public pilot phase of the rollout brings OMNY contactless payments to all Staten Island MTA buses and at all subway station entrances on the 4, 5, 6 lines between Grand Central-42 St and Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr. Initially, OMNY will support a full-fare, pay-per-ride option until all subway stations and bus routes are equipped with the new technology. Customers have the ability to access their trip history by registering for an OMNY account at omny.info.
“Cubic has enjoyed a long and strong partnership with the MTA and today we’re pleased to see New York taking the first major step towards a fully operational mobile-enabled and contactless fare payment system leveraging our technologies,” said Matt Cole, president of Cubic Transportation Systems. “We’re excited to see New Yorkers begin to use the new technology that will simplify their journeys and make their payment experience seamless.”
All remaining bus routes, subway stations, and Staten Island Railway locations will be equipped by late 2020. OMNY is expected to be enabled for LIRR and Metro-North Railroad by early 2021. Between 2021 and 2023, the MTA will support all remaining fare options, introduce the OMNY Card in retail locations throughout the New York region, and install new vending machines at locations throughout the system.
Only after the OMNY project is fully complete in 2023 will the MTA say goodbye to MetroCard for good. The MetroCard debuted in 1993.
Statements from payment companies accepted as part of OMNY
“Consumers around the world have quickly embraced the speed, convenience and security of tapping to pay. We are excited to be working with the MTA to enable this experience for New Yorkers, helping save valuable time and giving riders an easier way to get where they need to be.” – Dan Sanford, Global Head of Contactless Payments, Visa.
“Whether it’s your vacation or your daily commute, every second counts when you are trying to get around New York City. By partnering with the MTA and Cubic, we are using our payment and security technology to enable tap and go payments and make travel in the city easy, fast and hassle-free.” – Linda Kirkpatrick, Executive Vice President, US Merchants and Acceptance, Mastercard.
“American Express has offered contactless payment capabilities internationally for many years, and we’re thrilled to now work with the New York MTA to enable American Express Card Members to use their contactless-enabled card or digital wallet at the pilot subway stations. As contactless becomes available at more stations and businesses throughout New York, our Card Members will have the speed and convenience of being able to tap-to-pay at transit turnstiles and beyond.” – Jaromir Divilek, Executive Vice President, Global Network Operations, American Express.
“We’re proud Apple Pay is helping make New Yorkers’ daily commutes a little easier starting today. Once a customer sets up a payment card in Apple Wallet to use for Express Transit, they can simply tap their iPhone and Apple Watch on the reader to quickly go through the turnstile and ride the subway or board the bus.” – Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Internet Services, Apple.
“When Discover’s contactless technology is implemented, it will make it easier and faster for commuters in New York City to pay for rides and access public transportation. We’re looking forward to helping cities incorporate contactless payments into their mass transit systems with the goal of providing more seamless commuter experiences for their riders.” – Ricardo Leite, vice president of global products and partnerships at Discover.
“We want to make commuting simpler for everyone and we’re working with the MTA to enable Google Pay for NYC transit. Now, you can seamlessly tap and pay with your phones and save valuable time — and you can do this easily without even having to open the app or unlock your device. Additionally, in the next few weeks, Google Maps will let you see which routes accept Google Pay when you look up directions.” – Prakash Hariramani, Director, Google Pay.
“Samsung Pay provides access to great deals, earn rewards, and use of your mobile device to pay practically anywhere you can swipe a card. Now, we are continuing the evolution by bringing even more benefits to consumers. We are excited to help bring mobile innovation to New York City Transit commuters by delivering speed, convenience, and security to millions of daily commuters who use Samsung Pay.” – Sang Ahn, Vice President and General Manager for Samsung Pay.
“We’re excited to work with the MTA, one of the most recognized transit systems in the world, to empower consumers in New York City to easily tap to pay for subway transit from their wrist. We’ve always been about helping users be healthier, but we also continue to build on the overall utility of our platform to promote an active lifestyle. With that, we currently support open and closed loop transit systems around the globe, so we can provide valuable convenience, like effortlessly using a Fitbit smartwatch or tracker to pay for the subway, so users can go about their day and focus on what’s most important to them.” – James Park, CEO and Co-Founder of Fitbit.
* The MetroCard was first tested in the system in 1993, debuting to the larger public in January 1994. All MetroCard turnstiles were installed by May 1997 and all buses began accepting it by the end of 1995. Tokens were sold until April 2003 and were discontinued that May.
* OMNY readers accept contactless cards from Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and eventually Discover Card as well as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Fitbit.
* Transit Technical High School offers the city’s only vocational program that prepares high school students for careers at MTA New York City Transit. Students learn career and technical skills specifically aimed at getting them ready for NYC Transit careers. Many immediately enter apprenticeship programs at New York City Transit. More info about Transit Tech and the MTA’s longstanding relationship is available here.
* Cubic Transportation Systems has been a partner with the MTA in helping develop the technology since the very beginning of the process and also helped develop MetroCard. Since the introduction of the MetroCard system, Cubic has continued to support the MTA through various projects, including the introduction of the Select Bus Service, Second Avenue subway, 7 line extension, creation of the Barclays Center transit hub, South Ferry Terminal, Tompkinsville Station, Fulton Street Transit Center, Westchester Bee-Line and recovery from Superstorm Sandy, among many others.