New option for MetroCard users

October 3, 2010 8:33:28 PM PDT
The days of fumbling through your wallet or purse for your MetroCard may soon be over.

There is a new pilot program designed to save time and make your commute quicker and easier.

If you've ever waited on line to buy a MetroCard or dug through your wallet to find one, you'll appreciate this new option: using your credit card.

"Handling one more thing in your pocket, finding one more thing in your pocket and tracking one more expense," commuter Michael Landau said.

The six-month pilot program on Manhattan's East Side allows MTA bus and subway riders to tap chip-enabled credit or debit cards to pay the fare.

Riders have a choice. They can just walk up and pay per ride, or they can purchase weekly or monthly fares online and use the same credit card to 'tap in' to the system.

"Sometimes it's a hassle when you're in a hurry to have to come over here and wait on a long line," commuter Kevin Jackson said.

The new system is designed to save time. It doesn't take much time to swipe a MetroCard, but it takes even less time to tap your card.

That's especially true on city buses, where riders have to leave their MetroCards in the machines for several seconds.

"The transaction times, especially on buses, are slowing down passenger boarding time, and therefore slowing down bus service," MTA spokesperson Amy Linden said.

NJ Transit buses and PATH trains are also testing the program. Eventually, the goal is to allow commuters throughout the Tri-State region to use the same credit or debit card for access to every system.

"It's one less card to carry. You don't have to reload it. You don't have to worry about trashing it when you're done. It's just a lot easier," commuter Glenn Carlin said.

For customers who don't have credit or debit cards, there will still be a MetroCard option. But the savings on not having to run and maintain thousands of MetroCard machines is expected to save tens of millions of dollars.