OMNY (OM-nee, short for One Metro New York) is a contactless fare payment system, currently being implemented for use on public transit in New York City and the surrounding area. When OMNY is completely rolled out, it will replace the MetroCard on the New York City Subway, the Staten Island Railway, PATH trains, MTA buses, Bee-Line buses, and NICE buses. OMNY will also expand beyond the current scope of the MetroCard to the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad.

OMNY
OMNY logo.svg
LocationNew York City, United States
LaunchedMay 31, 2019
Technology
OperatorCubic Transportation Systems
ManagerMetropolitan Transportation Authority
CurrencyUnited States dollar
Validity
Websiteomny.info

The MetroCard, a magnetic stripe card, was first introduced in 1992 and was used to pay fares on MTA subways and buses, as well as on other networks such as the PATH train. Two limited contactless-payment trials were conducted around the New York City area in 2006 and in 2010. However, formal planning for a full replacement of the MetroCard did not start until 2016.

The OMNY system is designed by San Diego-based Cubic Transportation Systems, using technology licensed from Transport for London's Oyster card.[1] OMNY began its public rollout in May 2019, with contactless bank cards and mobile payments accepted at select subway stations and on buses in Staten Island. Full implementation is expected by 2023.

PredecessorsEdit

Previous fare mediaEdit

 
Contactless trial on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, 2007

Subway tokens had been used as the MTA subway and bus systems' form of fare payment since the 1950s. MetroCards made by Cubic Transportation Systems started to replace the tokens in 1992; the MetroCards used magnetic stripes to encode the fare payment. By 2003, the MetroCard was the exclusive method of fare payment systemwide.[2]

Payment system trialsEdit

MasterCard and Citibank funded a trial of contactless payments, branded as PayPass. The trial was conducted at 25 subway stations, mostly on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line,[a] beginning in July 2006. The trial was limited to select Citibank cardholders, but it proved popular enough to be extended past its original end date of December 2006.[3][4][5][6]

In light of the success of the first contactless payment trial in 2006, another trial was conducted from June to November 2010.[7][8] The 2010 trial initially only supported MasterCard-branded cards, expanding to Visa PayWave cards in August.[9][10] The 2010 trial eventually expanded to include multiple Manhattan bus routes, two New Jersey Transit bus routes, and most PATH stations.[b]

ProposalEdit

 
OMNY readers at Canal Street, 2019

In 2016, the MTA announced that it would begin designing a new contactless fare payment system to replace the MetroCard.[11][12][13] The replacement system was initially planned for partial implementation in 2018 and full implementation by 2022.[14] In October 2017, the MTA started installing eTix-compatible electronic ticketing turnstiles in 14 stations in Manhattan. The eTix system, already used on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, allows passengers to pay their fares using their phones. The system would originally be for MTA employees only.[15]

On October 23, 2017, it was announced that the MetroCard would be phased out and replaced by a contactless fare payment system also by Cubic, with fare payment being made using Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, debit/credit cards with near-field communication enabled, or radio-frequency identification cards.[16][17] The announcement called for a phased rollout, culminating in the discontinuation of the MetroCard by 2023.[17] The replacement fare system was criticized because the new turnstiles could be hacked, thereby leaving credit card and phone information vulnerable to theft.[18]

RolloutEdit

 
Staten Island buses were among the first to utilize OMNY readers[19]

In June 2018, the MTA revised the timeline for implementation of the then-unnamed new payment system. The first stage of implementation would take place in May 2019. All subway stations would receive OMNY readers by October 2020, in preparation for the launch of a prepaid OMNY card by February 2021.[20][21]:13 OMNY vending machines would be installed by March 2022,[21]:13 and the MetroCard would be discontinued in 2023.[22]

Initially, there were disagreements about what the payment system should be called; some executives wanted a "traditional" name that resembled the MetroCard's name, while others wanted more unusual names. Possible names included "MetroTap", "Tony", "Liberty" and "Pretzel". The name "OMNY" was eventually chosen as being "modern and universal".[23][24] The OMNY name was announced in February 2019.[25][26][27] "OMNY" is an acronym of "One Metro New York," intended to signify its eventual broad acceptance across the New York metropolitan area.[27]

An internal trial launched in March 2019, involving over 1,100 MTA employees and 300 other participants. Over 1,200 readers were installed in subway stations and buses for the public trial, and the OMNY.info website was created.[21]:14–15[28] Weeks before the beginning of the public launched, $85.4 million had been spent on the project, out of a total budget of $644.7 million.[21]:14 OMNY launched to the public on May 31, 2019 on Staten Island buses and at 16 subway stations.[c] At first, OMNY only supported single-ride fares paid with contactless bank cards; mobile payments such as Apple Pay and Google Pay were also accepted, and free transfers between OMNY-enabled routes were available with the same transfer restrictions placed upon the MetroCard.[29][30][31] In June and July 2019, Mastercard offered "Fareback Fridays" to promote the system, where it would refund up to two rides made using OMNY on Fridays.[32][33] The OMNY system reached one million uses within its first 10 weeks and two million uses within 16 weeks.[34]:58 On one day in June, 18,000 taps were recorded from bank cards issued in 82 countries.[35]

In November 2019, the MTA announced its first expansion. Over the following month, 48 additional stations would be outfitted with OMNY readers the following month, thereby bringing the system to all five boroughs,[d] and by January 2020 the system would then be expanded to Manhattan bus routes.[34]:57 Furthermore, the MTA would begin launching pilot programs on Select Bus Service, the city's bus rapid transit system, and add self-service features.[34]:60 By then, over 3 million riders with bank cards from 111 countries had used OMNY.[36][37][38][34]:58 According to an internal MTA report, these riders had used over 460,000 unique payment methods between them, or about 2,000 new payment methods per day.[34]:58 In January 2020, MTA officials announced that OMNY had seen its 5-millionth use, and also that it would expand to 60 more subway stations by the end of the month.[d] In addition, the MTA launched a marketing campaign for OMNY.[39][40] After another expansion the next month, there were over 180 OMNY-equipped stations and OMNY had been used over 7 million times.[41] This grew to 10 million uses by the time yet another expansion was announced in March.[42] However, in late March 2020, the remaining OMNY installations were postponed until June due to the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City.[43]

TimelineEdit

 
Map of OMNY-equipped stations and lines, June 2020

This list excludes other services that are also accessible via free transfer. A green row indicates that the particular line has fully implemented OMNY.

Line Stations Primary services Date
IRT Eastern Parkway Line Borough Hall/Court Street, Nevins Street, Atlantic Avenue–Barclays Center      May 2019[29][30]
IRT Lexington Avenue Line Bowling Green to Grand Central–42nd Street     
Staten Island local and express bus routes
BMT Fourth Avenue Line 86th Street/4th Avenue   December 2019[36][37]
BMT/IND Archer Avenue lines Sutphin Boulevard–Archer Avenue–JFK Airport  ​​  
IND Eighth Avenue Line 34th Street–Penn Station    
IRT 42nd Street Shuttle Times Square and Grand Central[e]  
IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line South Ferry/Whitehall Street to 59th Street–Columbus Circle    
IRT Jerome Avenue Line 138th Street–Grand Concourse to Woodlawn  
IRT Lexington Avenue Line Lexington Avenue/51st–53rd Streets to 125th Street     
Staten Island Railway St. George and Tompkinsville[f] Staten Island Railway
IND Sixth Avenue Line 47th–50th Streets–Rockefeller Center to Broadway–Lafayette Street       January 2020[40]
IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line 66th Street–Lincoln Center to Van Cortlandt Park–242nd Street    
IND Eighth Avenue Line Inwood–207th Street to High Street      
Multiple Jay Street–MetroTech     ​​ 
Seventh Avenue    
IRT White Plains Road Line Third Avenue–149th Street to Wakefield–241st Street    February 2020[41][44][45]
IRT Pelham Line Third Avenue–138th Street to Pelham Bay Park   
Manhattan bus routes March 2020[42][46]
IND Fulton Street Line Hoyt–Schermerhorn Streets to Euclid Avenue   
IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line Wall Street and Clark Street   
IRT Dyre Avenue Line Morris Park to Eastchester–Dyre Avenue  
IRT Eastern Parkway Line Hoyt Street   
IRT Flushing Line Mets–Willets Point and Flushing–Main Street   
IRT Lenox Avenue Line Central Park North–110th Street to Harlem–148th Street   
IRT Flushing Line 34th Street–Hudson Yards to 111th Street    June 2020
BMT Astoria Line Queensboro Plaza to Astoria–Ditmars Boulevard   
BMT Broadway Line 49th Street to Fifth Avenue–59th Street     
BMT Franklin Avenue Line Prospect Park to Park Place  

Future plansEdit

At a presentation in May 2019, the MTA's Capital Program Oversight Committee specified the following items to be implemented at an unspecified future date: launch a mobile app, add OMNY readers to Access-a-Ride paratransit vehicles, and add readers on Select Bus Service buses to support all-door boarding.[21]:17 However, the committee expressed concerns that some bank cards would not be accepted, and that OMNY transactions could take longer than MetroCard transactions, increasing crowding at turnstiles.[21]:21' Unlimited ride options will be available sometime between late 2020 and February 2021, while additional stations will be announced at the middle of every month until all stations have OMNY readers. All-door boarding at Select Bus Service routes with OMNY would begin sometime in early 2020.[47]

As of 2019, the MTA also plans to use OMNY in the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad over "the next several years".[48] In June 2019, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced it was in talks with the MTA to implement OMNY on the PATH by 2022.[49] There are no plans for OMNY to be used on NJ Transit, which plans to implement another new fare payment system with a different contractor.[50]

ConcernsEdit

The oversight group Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP) has stated concerns about the lack of privacy regulation in the OMNY system, specifically that trip data may be used by the New York City Police Department for police surveillance or might be shared with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to track undocumented immigrants.[51][52][53]

In February 2020, the MTA warned that some customers using Apple Pay's Express Transit feature might be accidentally double-charged if they were using a MetroCard. This occurred when riders unintentionally had their phones in proximity to the OMNY readers. At that point, the issue was relatively rare, having been reported 30 times.[54]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ The following subway stations participated in the 2006 trial:
  2. ^ The following bus routes and subway stations participated in the 2010 trial: Two options were available during this second trial for fare payment:
    • "pay-as-you-go" RFID card scan at select turnstiles or locations; or,
    • pre-funded fares via a pilot website called the "NY/NJ Transit Trial" for multiple and unlimited ride discounts. Pre-funded fares ceased to be available on the trial website on October 16, 2010, and the free trial ended on November 30, 2010.
  3. ^ All stations on the 4, ​5, ​6, and <6> trains between Grand Central–42nd Street and Atlantic Avenue–Barclays Center were in the initial OMNY pilot.
  4. ^ a b See § Timeline for a list of additional stations.
  5. ^ De facto implementation, as OMNY has been implemented on all stations that include this line.
  6. ^ These are the only two Staten Island Railway stations with turnstiles. See:
    • Mooney, Jake (September 7, 2008). "Soon, It Won't Even Pay to Walk". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 8, 2015.

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit