The MetroCard isn't quite ready to go the way of the token just yet, but it's getting closer. The MTA's taken a step toward its eventual replacement. NY1 Transit Reporter Jose Martinez has the details.
Take heart, Hillary Clinton: the MetroCard is one day closer to its last, pesky swipe.
Wednesday, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) began the long process of eventually phasing out the card that riders have used to enter the subway and ride buses for close to 25 years.
The agency asked companies to submit bids for a new fare system, one that would allow riders to skip the swipe.
"A pay system that's quicker and efficient will definitely make things go a lot faster," one straphanger said.
The MTA envisions a system that would allow transit riders to tap a smartphone, bank card, or smart card against an electronic reader.
The tap technology already is used by commuters in London, Washington, and even here in the city.
"The PATH has that, just like a transmitter card. You just tap it and then it goes through," one woman said at Court Square. "It's more convenient, to be quite honest."
The MTA sees many benefits in a new system, including not having to maintain MetroCard vending machines. And riders will be able to use one phone or card to ride the subway, buses, and the agency's commuter railroads.
But the path to the new technology hasn't been smooth.
The MTA hopes to begin rolling out the new system in two years, later than the agency had planned.
But not a moment too soon for some riders baffled by the swipe.
"I think the most inefficient thing about the turnstile and the MetroCard is that you swipe a few times and you're trying to make it, you hear your train coming, and you just swipe, swipe, and it keeps on messing up," another subway rider said.
Nobody knows that better than politicians Sen. Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, who have suffered embarrassing struggles with the swipe. Clinton embraced her gaffe, creating a GIF and using it as an error message on her website.
"The MetroCard is a 1990s technology that we're trying to use for a 21st century city," John Raskin, the executive director of the Riders Alliance said. "I ride the subway every day and sometimes it takes me two or three swipes to get on the train."
As with the token, which was finally retired for good in 2003, the MTA anticipates that the MetroCard will coexist with its replacement for some time after its debut.