MetroCards to go digital by 2019, says MTA

The transit agency is planning to adopt new technology, meaning the iconic yellow card could soon go the way of the dodo

Once a novelty, the MetroCard—which celebrated its 20th anniversary on Monday—will soon be left behind for new technologies. The MTA has announced that it hopes to replace the yellow cards, used by 7.7 million people every day, with a digital fare-payment process by 2019. Instead of swiping, straphangers will tap sensors with their key chains, credit cards or smartphones to get through subway turnstiles (they already do something similar in London's Oyster Card system).

The cost of producing the estimated 80 million MetroCards needed for 2014 is around $6 million, so the MTA stands to save lots of money. Other bonuses include increased expediency and convenience for riders: not having to worry about losing a flimsy piece of paper, not being held up by swipe issues, not paying the $1 card-replacement fee.

So what's with the five-year holdup? The digital upgrade depends on forces outside the MTA: Namely, the credit-card industry has to adopt new technology.

(h/t Skift)

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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

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