The New York City area’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Wednesday activated 96 contactless card readers in Manhattan’s Penn Station, one of the nation’s busiest transit hubs, in its quest to accept contactless payment cards and mobile-payment apps across its vast subway and bus system by the end of next year.
The MTA also said it recently surpassed 4 million taps after beginning acceptance of contactless payments at limited locations in late May. By the end of this month, all MTA-operated buses on Staten Island, two Staten Island Railway stations, and 85 of the MTA’s 472 subway stations will have tap-and-go fare readers.
The contactless effort is part of the MTA’s OMNY project, which enables riders to pay with major-brand contactless credit and debit cards as well as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and FitBit Pay.
As well as providing for acceptance of general-purpose contactless cards and mobile payments using near-field communication technology, the OMNY fare system will have its own virtual card and a physical contactless card set to debut in 2021. OMNY is replacing the MTA’s magnetic-stripe-based MetroCard, which debuted in 1994. The MetroCard won’t be retired until the OMNY project is fully implemented in 2023, the MTA said.
The Penn Station activation involved so-called validators at 18 turnstile arrays serving six subway lines. Executives from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Visa Inc., which are promoting contactless payments, attended the MTA’s Penn Station announcement. Chase, the nation’s largest credit card issuer, already had 20 million contactless cards in issue as of May.
“Visa has seen New Yorkers quickly embrace tapping to pay as they benefit from a fast, easy, and secure way to get around New York City,” Dan Sanford, global head of contactless payments at Visa, said in an MTA news release. “With more Chase Visa contactless cards being used every day, we are excited to continue our efforts alongside Chase and the MTA to deliver more ways for customers to save valuable time and improve their daily routines throughout the OMNY expansion.”
In conjunction with this month’s expansion, Mastercard Inc. is reviving its Fareback Friday promotion, which will give MTA subway riders who pay fares with a Mastercard contactless card refunds of up to $5.50 on all Fridays though the end of year, including New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. In addition, Mastercard also is refunding its cardholders up to $10 off of taxicab rides every Tuesday through the end of the year, including New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, if they make contactless payments in yellow or green taxis equipped with Curb Mobility or CMT technology systems.
A spokesperson says 22% of Mastercard’s global transactions are contactless, and the network has commitments from U.S. banks and credit unions to bring more than three-quarters of its volume to contactless issuance over the next two years. Visa recently reported that it reached its 2019 goal of 100 million contactless Visa cards in the U.S.