Please Swipe Again… Or Not

The MTA’s Gradual Replacement of the MetroCard


Alexander Thorp

The subway stop for the 4 and 5 trains at the Borough Hall Station is one of the first in the city to implement an OMNY test phase system.

We have all once swiped our MetroCard too quickly at the subway turnstile, causing the words, “Please Swipe Again” to appear on the tiny screen. Though a hassle, swiping our precious cards through the gate is a daily routine for many of us, allowing us access into the station before we hop onto the next coming train to take us to our destination.

With its easily recognizable block color design and magnetic stripe, the MetroCard is an iconic symbol for many native New Yorkers and tourists alike. However, at the beginning of May, the MTA will start to implement a four year plan to create a “tap and go” system across the city’s subway stations, leaving the MetroCard a distant memory by 2023.

The updated payment method was introduced by the MTA in 2017 as OMNY (One Metro New York): a new, contactless technology system that can operate on both smartphones and brand-new “tap” cards. The decision to swap the MetroCard “swipe” system for a “tap and go” method was prompted by both MTA and consumer demand for a quicker and more efficient way for subway travel.

“I’m excited for OMNY, because it’ll allow me to put money on my card much more easily and efficiently than the current system,” said Elizabeth Chen ’19.

Allowing for riders to pay at the turnstile and being more secure when passengers reload their accounts are just some of the many new elements of OMNY. The implementation of OMNY is clearly purposed to benefit the rider, and many everyday commuters are excited for the new system to spread.

“I’m excited for OMNY, because it’ll allow me to put money on my card much more easily and efficiently than the current system,” said Elizabeth Chen ’19.

The first stations to feature this new payment system are all stops between Grand Central-42nd Street and Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center on the 4, 5, and 6 lines. The new update is also available on Staten Island buses.

Given that most Bronx Science students and faculty use public transportation to get to school every day, there have also been some skeptic reactions to this change just within the school community.

“I don’t think that replacing the MetroCard will change much. It seems like a waste of resources when stations have larger issues at hand, such as being underfunded, understaffed, and overcrowded. Therefore, I don’t really understand why the MTA is investing so much time and money into this whole project,” said Osvaldo Morales ’19.

“It all sounds like a good idea, but I feel like that scanner could break easily or malfunction,” said Olivia Chin ’19.

These are only a few of the many doubts that commuters across the city have had since the first announcement of OMNY nearly a year and a half ago. Nonetheless, the MTA has promised all subway riders on its website that this MetroCard replacement system will, “make your trips faster and more convenient,” and further states that, “OMNY is the newest way to experience all that the region offers.”

Not to worry though, you can hold onto your yellow cards a bit longer. Renovations to all subway stations in order to equip them for OMNY will not be completed until 2023, so until then, the MetroCard is here to stay.