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New York City Is Killing Off MetroCards

The city is rolling out a new "tap-to-ride" system that riders can access using a smartphone.

by Louise Matsakis; illustrated by Louise Matsakis
Oct 24 2017, 4:45pm

Image via Shutterstock.

Earlier this year, New York City's MetroCard, used to enter the city's transit system, reached peak coolness: It was branded with the Supreme logo. Now, it's ready to die. According to the New York Times, city officials announced Monday that NYC will begin phasing out the famous MetroCard.

MetroCards, which are pretty easy to lose and rack up millions for the city in unused rides, have been around since the 1990s. Other major cities (like London) have long since moved on to electronic "tap-to-ride" payment methods—similar to Apple Pay. Starting next year, New York City will finally join them once the MTA installs the new system across hundreds of bus and subway stations in the city. But don't toss your card yet: New electronic systems won't be fully up and running until 2020, according to the New York Post.

The change comes due to a $573 million contract the Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently approved to install near-field communication systems (NFC) across the city. They will enable riders to tap their phone or a special card to ride the bus or subway—no swiping required. According to the Post, MetroCard fans will be still be able to hang onto their card as the new system is rolled out, but they'll have to get rid of them by 2023, once the new system is fully up and running.

The NFC systems will hopefully streamline the commute for the roughly 6 million New Yorkers who ride the subway or bus each day. Unfortunately, they probably won't do anything to eliminate the unique sights and smells straphangers have grown accustomed to on their daily rides.