Why are so many people being double-charged to use the NYC subway?
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Late last year, I visited London and marveled at the efficient contactless payment system the Tube uses. I became even more excited to adopt New York City’s contactless fare system — called OMNY — when I returned home from London. OMNY started its rollout in May 2019 and is expected to be available across MTA buses and subways in late 2020.
I am a heavy user of Apple Pay, connecting it to any account that will let me, and using it as my main form of payment at stores. My Apple Watch with Apple Pay has been one of my favorite purchases in years, so you can bet I’m going to be one of the first people to enthusiastically use OMNY.
One of the main differences between the London and New York systems is the portal for contactless payment. In London, they use small plastic yellow terminals, while in New York they are introducing small iPad-like screens. Introducing a fragile terminal in New York seems like an obvious flaw, and before the system is even fully rolled out I counted at least 2two broken screens at the Union Square subway stop.
As a member of TPG’s social media team and a millennial that likes to photograph everything, I wanted to snap a quick photo of the broken terminals while passing though at a low traffic time. After taking the photo, I kept my phone in my right hand and used my left hand to reach over and swipe my unlimited Metrocard. Before the card could register, my phone authorized the contactless payment.
How could it do this? Apple Wallet has a feature called “Transit Express.” Once toggled on, it’s designed to authorize transit payments without additional authorization.
I’m not the only one this is happening to. For some, this double-payment is happening even while their phone is safely in their purse or pocket.
Since I use my Apple Watch daily, I’m surprised this has only happened to me once.
In a Twitter reply to an OMNY double-pay complaint, MTA is encouraging subway customers to disable Transit Express while using the subway system.
Maybe I toggled the function on when I was in London. Maybe it slid on when I added my new Amex Gold card to my Apple Wallet. However it got turned on, let my mistake be a lesson to you. Unless you’re going to use Apple Pay at the OMNY terminals, make sure this feature is turned off.
Featured image by Maxian/Getty Images
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.