|Location||New York City, United States|
|Launched||May 31, 2019|
|Operator||Cubic Transportation Systems|
|Manager||Metropolitan Transportation Authority|
|Currency||United States dollar|
OMNY (short for One Metro New York, pronounced like "omni") 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.
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. 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 in 2023.
Starting in 1992, MetroCards made by Cubic Transportation Systems replaced the subway tokens that had been used as the subway's form of fare payment from the 1950s on. The MetroCards used magnetic stripes to encode the fare payment. By 2003, the MetroCard was the exclusive method of fare payment systemwide.
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,[note 2] 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.
In light of the success of the first contactless payment trial in 2006, another trial was conducted from June—November 2010. The 2010 trial initially only supported MasterCard-branded cards, expanding to Visa PayWave cards in August. The 2010 trial eventually expanded to include multiple Manhattan bus routes, two New Jersey Transit bus routes, and most PATH stations.[note 3]
In 2016, the MTA announced that it would begin designing a new contactless fare payment system to replace the MetroCard. The replacement system was initially planned for partial implementation in 2018 and full implementation by 2022. 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.
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. The announcement called for a phased rollout, culminating in the discontinuation of the MetroCard by 2023. The replacement fare system was criticized because the new turnstiles could be hacked, thereby leaving credit card and phone information vulnerable to theft.
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.:13 OMNY vending machines would be installed by March 2022,:13 and the MetroCard would be discontinued in 2023.
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". The OMNY name was announced in February 2019. "OMNY" is an acronym of "One Metro New York," intended to signify its eventual broad acceptance across the New York metropolitan area.
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.:14–15 OMNY launched to the public on May 31, 2019 on Staten Island buses and at 16 subway stations.[note 1] Currently[update], OMNY only supports single-ride fares paid with contactless bank cards; mobile payments such as Apple Pay and Google Pay are also accepted, and free transfers between services that support OMNY are available with the same rules as the MetroCard.
Weeks before the public rollout began, $85.4 million had been spent on the project, out of a total budget of $644.7 million.:14 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. The MTA reported that the current OMNY implementation has proven to be moderately popular: on one day in June, 18,000 taps were recorded from bank cards issued in 82 countries.
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.: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
As of 2019[update], the MTA also plans to use OMNY in the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad over "the next several years". 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. 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.
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