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Finally: Contactless Payments Coming to NYC Subway and Buses in 2019

June 18, 2018
2 min read
Finally: Contactless Payments Coming to NYC Subway and Buses in 2019
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If you've traveled on New York City's subway or bus network, you've probably noticed the antiquated payment system — New Yorkers have been using MetroCards for some 25 years now, and while plastic cards beat the old token system, they're still incredibly temperamental, and a pain to purchase and reload.

Other countries have been using contactless payments for over a decade — Japan's Suica card launched in 2001 — but the United States' most populous city has lagged far behind. Now, we finally know when NYC's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will get a much-needed 21st-century upgrade.

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - JANUARY 13: A person swipes a metrocard in New York subway station on January 13, 2014 in New York, United States. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) declares that MetroCard the subway rapid transit system is going to change until 2019. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MetroCard swipes will soon be a thing of the past. Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

According to multiple reports, the MTA will finally introduce contactless payments next year, first on the Lexington Avenue Line, between Grand Central to Atlantic Avenue. Come May 2019, passengers riding the subway on 4, 5 and 6 trains between those stations will be able to pass through a fare gate by tapping their credit card or smartphone on a special terminal at each turnstile, eliminating the need to purchase a separate card.

The new terminals are expected to be compatible with smartphone services like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, in addition to credit cards with tap-to-pay support. Metal cards don't support contactless payments, unfortunately, so if you're hoping to earn 3x points on subway swipes with your Chase Sapphire Reserve, you'll need to register for mobile payments, first. Still, that's a small price to pay to avoid swiping — and re-swiping — a MetroCard.