Commuters could be seeing changes as soon as 18 months from the project start, when the rollout of the contactless system will have commuters waving cards or tapping smartphones to enter a turnstile or board a bus.
As the NYT article explains, the new system will work with chip cards (credit and debit cards which use the EMV standard) and smartphone payment apps such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay. Now, subway and bus riders must swipe a MetroCard, a thin paper-like card that they load with money at vending machines in subway stations around the city. Hillary Clinton famously struggled with this issue during her presidential election campaign in 2016. The MTA doesn't plan to phase out the MetroCard system altogether until 2023, at which point the swiping of yellow cards will be a distant memory for New Yorkers.
Riders will be able to use both MetroCards and "contactless" payment methods during the transition. The old card readers aren't expected to be fully upgraded in every station in NYC until late 2020.
This $573 million deal would hire the same company who developed the London Underground and London Commute payment system to adopt a similar payment system in 500 subway turnstiles and 600 city busses starting late-2018.
"Governor Cuomo is holding millions of transit riders hostage in his dispute with the Mayor, even after he acknowledged that the subway system is in a state of emergency and promised to fix it", said Executive Director of the Riders Alliance, Joel Raskin before suggesting that the two politicians use their respective powers to fill the funding gap.
Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc, which has installed electronic payment systems in mass transit systems in Miami, London, Vancouver, will be paid over a 12-year period, according to MTA board documents.