stand clear of the closing doors

The MetroCard Won’t Go the Way of the Subway Token Quite Yet

Metrocard users at the Rockefeller Center subway station.
Photo: Linda Rosier/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Back in January, the MTA celebrated the MetroCard’s 20th birthday by announcing a vague plan to get rid of it by 2019. That was a convenient goal, as the authority also estimated that it would be unable to keep the MetroCard system “in good repair” beyond that year without additional spending. Now, spokesman Kevin Ortiz says that the MTA has started looking into “funding requirements” needed to keep New Yorkers in yellow cards until 2023, because — surprise! — an independent consultant has determined that the current schedule for phasing them out is too “aggressive.”

The MTA had hoped to start using a new payment system by 2016 or early 2017, allowing around three years of overlap with the MetroCard. But, as the New York Times notes, the authority still hasn’t even decided what the new method will look like, though it will likely be “focused on contactless, account-based systems that could rely on smart cards, key fobs or cellphones.” “The bottom line is that MTA’s peers in North America have taken from roughly five to ten years to implement a system like this,” explained the consultant, Kent Haggas.

But don’t worry! MTA vice president Michael DeVitto assured his board that the MetroCard apparatus “will not simply fall apart” come 2019. “It will just get increasingly more difficult and expensive to maintain,” he said. So, prepare to pay even higher fares for an even more finicky swiping experience, possibly until everyone just starts commuting by jet-pack.

MetroCard Won’t Go Way of Subway Token Yet