New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently announced that it aims to move forward with a plan to roll out electronic readers for a pay-as-you-go system that will allow subway and bus riders to wave a cellphone or certain kinds of credit or debit to pay their fare.
The authority's goal to install the technology into 500 subway turnstiles and onto 600 buses beginning in late 2018 is ambitious, but also quite an exciting one.
As one of the oldest transportation systems in the world, it is interesting to see that the MetroCard, an archaic plastic card that currently swipes riders in, is finally coming soon to an end to make way for something new and modern. And, if there is anything I’ve seen from the widespread adoption of NFC payments, it’s that it can significantly impact the overall infrastructure for transportation systems.
We can take a look at U.K.’s adoption of the Oyster Card as a great example on how it transformed the underground. For years, riders had to either queue up to purchase a ticket every time they traveled, or outlay a significant up-front cost to buy a travel card.
Now, more than 450 million trips have used Oyster, making 30% of all journeys around London. This continues to grow, with 25,000 new cards being used on the network every day; with the introduction of other mobile payments, we're only going to see further growth.
As the U.S. begins to catch up with the rest of the world with contactless payments, I am sure New Yorkers will embrace the technology to help them travel through the subway with quick ease.
Banks will reap the benefits of simple, convenient contactless payments, too. Transit transactions will increase card use and loyalty, and will generate the same sort of reputational boost London enjoys with Oyster. I look forward to seeing the MTA set an example for the rest of the U.S. and pave way for NFC nationwide.