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August 23, 2019

MTA’s new tap-and-pay OMNY system a big hit with riders, reaches 1 million uses

August 13, 2019

Natalia Quintero, director of the Transit Tech Lab, left, MTA Chairman Pat Foye and Al Putre, director of the MTA’s new OMNY system announce that one million rides have been taken using the new tap-and-pay technology (Clayton Guse/New York Daily News) (Clayton Guse/New York Daily News)

The MTA’s replacement for the MetroCard has proven to be more popular than transit officials expected.

The agency, which rolled out its new OMNY tap-and-pay system on a select number of subway stops and bus routes in late May, on Tuesday announced that riders have already used the service more than one million times — a number way beyond the original projections.

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The OMNY readers, which allows passengers to pay for trips using smartphones or credit cards that are equipped with a special chip, is in place at turnstiles along the 4, 5 and 6 subway lines between the Grand Central-42nd St. and Atlantic Ave.-Barclays Center subway stations. Bus riders in Staten Island are also able to pay for rides with the new tech.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Pat Foye said he didn’t expect OMNY to be so popular — he said the system is getting three to four times the usage that agency officials had projected three months ago.

“I think the fact that we’ve gotten to the millionth tap so quickly affirms acceptance by our customers,” Foye said.

The system is currently getting 22,000 taps per weekday, officials said.

Al Putre, who is overseeing the rollout of OMNY at the MTA, said the system would have gotten even more usage if credit card companies did a better job of distributing cards equipped with chips that are compatible with the new turnstile readers. Smartphones have accounted for the bulk of the system’s taps, Putre said.

Al Putre, director of the MTA's OMNY system, demonstrates the tap-and-pay technology on Tuesday, August 13, 2019. (Clayton Guse/New York Daily News)
Al Putre, director of the MTA’s OMNY system, demonstrates the tap-and-pay technology on Tuesday, August 13, 2019. (Clayton Guse/New York Daily News) (Clayton Guse/New York Daily News)

“The banking industry didn’t issue the cards as quickly as we wanted,” said Putre. “They’re scrambling now.”

Putre and Foye also asserted that banks and credit card companies are not able to collect data on where riders are tapping. “We’ve built world-class [data] protections into the system,” Foye said.

OMNY readers will be rolled out throughout the MTA’s entire subway and bus network by late 2020. Riders will be able to load seven- or 30-day passes onto their phones or on a new plastic OMNY card come 2021.

The MetroCard will not be phased out until 2023, but Putre said the transition is moving along swiftly.

“It took almost three years to roll MetroCard out end to end,” said Putre. “By October of next year we’ll be done.”

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