How the New York MTA learned from TfL to move on from the MetroCard

New York's public transport system is finally taking steps to move away from the flimsy MetroCard in favour of contactless payment cards, thanks to the company behind London's Oyster Card.

The New York transit authority sought bids for a new payment system back in October 2017 and chose Cubic Transportation Systems, the company also behind the original magnetic stripe MetroCard, from among five proposals.

Joseph J. Lhota, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), said at the time: "Today's vote is a tremendous win for New Yorkers, paving the way for flexible payment options, a streamlined trip through the region's public transit, and updated equipment that will help save money in operating costs. Together with Cubic, we look forward to building the MTA of tomorrow."

Cubic signed a licensing deal in 2016 with Transport for London (TfL) allowing it to take the technology developed for London to other cities, and the company admits that London was the blueprint for the contactless solution being put in place in New York.

Steve Brunner, Cubic vice president and GM for the New York Tri-State region told Computerworld UK via email: "Cubic's bid to New York featured the technology and support from the TfL contactless solution and we are confident that by using the London experience as the blueprint for New York, the new system will provide the world-class solution that New York riders deserve."

The technology

As part of this deal - which could be worth in excess of $570 million (£437 million) to Cubic if successful - the firm is responsible for the design, integration, supply and implementation of the new fare payment system. This includes platform hosting, hardware and software maintenance, as well as call centre support.

New equipment will include modern fare validators and configurable ticket vending machines across the MTA's 472 subway stations and 6,000 buses.

These validators are integrated devices which include an LCD display with a contactless and barcode reader, and will be installed alongside the existing MetroCard readers while they are being phased out.

The Configurable Vending Machine will replace the existing MetroCard vending machines in stations by 2022 and will issue fare payment in the form of a contactless card or a single-ride barcode ticket.

The new system will allow travellers to tap the new MTA-issued contactless card (the branding of which is yet to be decided), a bank-issued contactless payment card, or a mobile device payment to get through the new ticket 'validators' at a station.

New York's flat fare system, unlike London's zone system based on distance travelled, will not be changing however.

The below YouTube videofrom Cubic gives an idea as to how this equipment will look once in place.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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