The MetroCard, which is clearly outdated and antiquated, has been used by New York City residents since the 1990s, according to The New York Times. MetroCards, originally created by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, are filled with money at machines by users and then swiped at turnstile stations in order to enter and ride subways and buses.
The MTA passed a contract in order to create a new payment system on Oct. 23, and “new electronic readers will be installed in 500 subway turnstiles and 600 buses in New York,” according to The New York Times.
This increased financial investment in the public transportation system is much needed. It is especially imperative in an urban hub like New York City to ensure individuals can travel with ease, as a large number of people elect to use public transportation. In 2016 alone, the MTA had more than 6 million riders, according to The Atlantic. It should be a priority for the MTA to guarentee that individuals continue to have reliable, timely and most importantly, convenient public transportation available to them.
Although the MetroCard system has been in place for many years, it is certainly not the most effective or modern way for riders to pay for tickets. It is common that turnstiles often have trouble reading cards, leaving riders stuck swiping multiple times, and holding up lines of people behind them.
The fact that the MetroCard exists in a physical form is preposterous in a time where technology is so far advanced. Having only a physical ticket causes riders to be unable to track their money online as well as on their cards. This makes users unaware of the fact that they have insufficient funds, causing them to hold up lines having to re-fill their card. Additionally, if riders misplace or lose their card there is no way to retrieve those funds.
The use of the old-fashioned MetroCard system in New York City has been detrimental for commuters, specifically in recent years. While individuals are commuting, they are already facing long lines, cramped subway cars and delays; it is absolutely necessary to make their payment method easy and convenient.
The contract to create a better system will allow MTA users to pay for public transportation “by waving cellphones or certain kinds of credit or debit cards at the turnstiles in the subway or the fareboxes on buses,” according to The New York Times.
This new system will be a positive change and eliminate the inconvenience of having to refill cards at physical machines, and also will allow users to make note of the money they have for fares through an online account, according to The New York Times.
With more modern forms of transportation such as Uber and Lyft emerging in the private sector of urban cities, specifically New York, the timing of this announcement could not be more crucial. Younger generations will now be more likely to utilize public transportation as purchasing fares can be done with the touch of a button—the kind of money transfer they are used to.
While this change is a long time coming, the MTA should be commended for its modernization efforts and its allocation of funds to update the MetroCard. Considering technology’s widespread use and effects, it is imperative to continue to incorporate new technology and better the public transportation system in New York City.