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MetroCard Turns 20, but MTA Has Plans to Replace It

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TWC News: MetroCard Turns 20, but MTA Has Plans to Replace It
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For some New Yorkers it may be hard to believe, but it's been two decades since the MTA got us to start shedding tokens for a new form of paying fares. However, as NY1's Jose Martinez reports, riders better not get too attached to those MetroCards.

Swipe, dip and celebrate, even with the fare at $2.50 and rising, because the MetroCard just turned 20.

That familiar piece of plastic that altered mass transit in the city took its first swipe on January 6, 1994 on its way to replacing the bus transfer slip and the iconic token now largely unknown to a generation of New Yorkers.

The token took its last drop into a turnstile in 2003, more than nine years after subway stations and buses started accepting the MetroCard.

Lev Radin started his MetroCard collection as soon as they were introduced. He stores them in plastic, keeping them in mint condition at his Bronx home.

"Originally, people were really, really upset with MetroCards," Radin said. "They were accustomed to tokens."

Not Radin, who came to the city the same year the card did, when it cost a mere $1.25 per ride.

He's got the original blue MetroCard with yellow letters, a 1994 Rangers Stanley Cup set, cards featuring city landmarks and subway trivia. There's even one with our old logo.

He's even picked up test MetroCards and a few like a December holidays card that he says was never issued to the public - thanks to well connected friends, he says.

He's lost count of how many he has, and how far he's had to go to fill his albums. And what's going to become of them all?

"Maybe my kids will do something with this collection," he said.

He's only got so much time to keep building it, however. Sure, the MetroCard made it to 20, but the Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to have it go the way of the token by the time it gets to its 25th birthday.

"What we want to do is allow a customer to be able to pay their fare using, say, a contact-less card or a smartphone," said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.

Just in time, maybe, for riders to finally get the swipe right.

Got A Transit Tip?

Do you have a news tip or story idea about the city's transit systems? Send an email to NY1 Transit Reporter Jose Martinez.

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