New York delays contactless subway payments until December

OMNY machine installations were delayed due to COVID-19.

Edgar Alvarez/Engadget

The One Metro New York (OMNY) system was supposed to be available across NYC’s entire subway system by October, but coronavirus-related concerns forced the local government to halt its installation. According to The Wall Street Journal, the MTA had to suspend the installation of OMNY’s digital readers out of concern that workers could become infected by the virus. While work on the contactless payment system — something that would be immensely helpful to have right now — resumed in May, installation now won’t be complete until the end of December.

OMNY gives commuters a way to pay their fare with a tap of their phones, smartwatches or credit cards. Users won’t have to touch MetroCard vending machines anymore, though the fare payment cards will continue to work until 2023. The local government started rolling out the system in 2019, so there are quite a few stations that already offer contactless payment as an option. As MTA official Al Putre explained, though: “Unless you have OMNY at both ends of your destination you’re not going to use OMNY.”

Although the technology’s rollout won’t be complete until a couple of months later than planned, it will be available earlier than expected on buses. The MTA has accelerated its installation by six months as a response to the pandemic, and it will be offered on all Manhattan buses by the end of July, as well as on all buses across NYC by the end of 2020.

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