Most New Yorkers are painfully aware of how long it takes to wait in line for the bus or refill your metro card at a busy subway station. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is proud to announce further developments in the phasing out of the MetroCard by replacing it with the tap of a credit card and the brand new MTA Card.

On the first of June last year, the MTA announced the launch of a six month pilot program in which MasterCard PayPass was accepted for fare payments on select train and bus routes throughout New York City and New Jersey. Developments since the trial period ended include the unveiling of the MTA’s post-MetroCard system to more than 70 companies in the telecommunications, technology, and financial industries, including American Express, JPMorgan Chase and Nokia.

How it will work

“Contactless” payment has proved its worth many times over, and once the new system is in place, circa 2015, instead of swiping your MetroCard, you can place or tap your contactless credit or debit card in front of a sensor, easing your trip through the turnstile and shortening the waiting time drastically. Riders who don’t want to or cannot pay via credit or debit card could buy new versions of MetroCards at subway stations, called the MTA Card, which will also work with a tap.

Why this is better

Chief Financial Officer of the MTA Charles Monheim described the new cards as “E-ZPass for transit.” Waiting in line for people slowly filing onto the bus, sometimes after a long, crowded subway ride is a tedious affair, so speeding up that process is definitely desirable. Straphangers can also establish travel accounts which will allow transferring money using a computer or any ATM machine. And, it will just be a matter of time before payments via cell phone will be allowed, or a new iPad app which will be designed specially for it.

Check out: Pay Subway Fare With Your iPhone

In addition, the MTA expects that this will save them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in labor and material costs associated with selling and distributing the MetroCard. More than 70 million MetroCards a year are sold from in-station vending machines and booths, which need constant maintenance. Currently, there are approximately 8 million riders per day and the MTA spends 15 cents in fare collection for every dollar they intake, so even a small decrease in that cost can mean a huge difference in revenue.

Finally, the MTA expects the new system to help cut down on fraud by reducing the amount of money it loses annually to “swipers,” scam-artists who vandalize MetroCard vending machines. Then, swipers sell illegal entry to riders, cutting the MTA out of the profits.

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  • Er Ramalingam K S