Sticking with a MetroCard replacement planBy
One of the key items Jay Walder had hoped to accomplish during his time atop the MTA involved the fare payment technology. The MetroCard, practically obsolete since it was first introduced in 1994, hasn’t seen an upgrade in 18 years, and I can’t imagine keeping one computer around for the better part of two decades. Walder had been pushing forward on a contact-less smart card plan using credit and debit cards that would have saved the MTA millions in fare-collection costs, but his departure and the MTA’s general financial woes cast some doubt on a plan that’s been in the works for nearly a decade.
While speaking with The Times this week, new MTA Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota issued something of an embrace of the smart card project. “Anything we can to do to make it easier for our customers to get on, to get off our system, is the right thing to do,” he said. “But we have to evaluate it. Does the investment make the most amount of sense? So we need to evaluate new technologies; we have to, always.”
After the interview, Lhota stressed that is “fully committed to moving the smart-card program forward.” One way or another, the MTA has to move forward with something. They spend too much on fare collection and MetroCard Vending Machine maintenance today, and the technology has long since passed its prime. Someday, our contact-less fare payment system will come. (For more on the MetroCard replacement project, check out my past coverage of what the MTA termed “an E-ZPass for Transit.”)