The MTA PayPass Pilot Program Starts Today: Death of Metrocard Forthcoming

Happy June 1st! If you didn't know, today is the magical day that the New York/New Jersey Port Authority and related transportation organizations with be experimenting with Mastercard's PayPass technology at certain MTA subway stops, buses, and on the NJ Transit. More importantly: in other words, if the Metrocard dies, it's fate was sealed today. UPDATE: There's now video of PayPass in action!

Via NY1:

A pilot program rolling out today for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Port Authority and New Jersey Transit allows riders to wave a card or key fob in front of sensors, and the fare will be deducted from an account.

The program is being managed by Mastercard. The sensors will be used mostly on city buses for now, with the M14, M23, M79, M86, M101, M102 and M103 lines all being outfitted. The card will also work on PATH and New Jersey Transit Trains. Turnstiles on the Lexington Avenue Number 4, 5 and 6 subway lines will also be a part of the pilot.

We know what you're thinking: I want one. Getting into this commuter pilot program kinda is baller-status, if you get there before anyone else. Truth be told, we've got absolutely no idea where to get ahold of one, but there is a pretty bare-bones website here, though one crafty blogger, 2nd Ave. Sagas, uncovered a few extra details from the website about the program:

The New York City Transit trial will include a variety of fare-payment options. Those MasterCard users whose cards come equipped with a smart chip can either enroll in a plan or pay as they go. The pay-as-you-go option remains foolish because the charge will be a full $2.25 while the pre-paid pay-per-ride plans include the 15 percent fare bonus with an automatic renewal when account balances dip. Customers used to timed passes can opt to buy the equivalent a one-, seven-, 14- or 30-day unlimited MetroCard with an optional auto-renew at the end of the time period. In a sense, the pay pass is a glorified MetroCard EasyPayXpress plan that allows the MTA to improve its fare-collection efforts.

They also nabbed some screenshots from the pilot program's website, like this:

The MTA PayPass Pilot Program Starts Today: Death of Metrocard Forthcoming

It's like the future...of spending money! You just touch it, and it does things. If you've ever been to London, you're probably familiar with the OysterCard, which works the same way (and which was part of the inspiration for MTA chiefs to do this, as it pulls in an additional "$30-40 million annually" for London's transit system. Unfortunately, like the subway token before it, it also sadly takes away some of the charm of riding the subway, however annoying. You'll miss that "SWIPE AGAIN" error message when it's gone. Thankfully, we will always have the song to commemorate it and to remember it by. In honor, Le Tigre, take us away:

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]

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