Update: The MTA announced on Thursday afternoon that it will be delaying its software upgrade for a week.
Cash is (maybe) king in New York City this weekend.
Just after 7pm on Wednesday night, the MTA announced on Twitter that MetroCard vending machines at subway stations “may not” be accepting credit and debit card purchases over the weekend. From 11:45pm on Friday night to 5am on Monday morning, purchases at machines could be limited to cash, but the authority was unclear as to whether or not the temporary change will actually go into effect.
Plan ahead! Due to a scheduled system software upgrade, MetroCard vending machines may not be accepting credit or debit card purchases from Friday, February 2, at 11:45PM, to Monday, February 5, at 5:00AM. Purchase MetroCards before Friday evening or use cash.— NYCT Subway (@NYCTSubway) February 1, 2018
The switch to cash is the result of a scheduled software upgrade related to the MTA’s plan to replace the MetroCard with a tap-and-pay system by 2023, a follow-up tweet said. But if the upgrade was in fact scheduled, it begs the question as to why officials gave the public just two days notice (and only on Twitter).
The MTA does not have a great record of communicating service changes to straphangers. Last March, the authority announced that three R train stations would be closing for six months just five days before construction began. A weekly press release is sent out every Friday that details changes in weekend subway service, often just hours before they go into effect. And when delays and equipment failures cripple the system, riders are often forced to scan through Twitter to find out how their commutes will be affected.
An MTA spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday morning. To be safe, anyone riding the subway this weekend should either purchase their passes in advance or make sure that they’ve got a fresh stack of greenbacks in their wallet.