clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Apple Pay can be used to ride New York City’s MTA transit starting May 31st

New, 30 comments

Tap-to-pay comes to the Big Apple

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

New Yorkers can use Apple Pay to ride the Metropolitan Transportation Authority starting May 31st, the company announced today. Previously, the company’s CEO Tim Cook had said Apple Pay would begin rolling out to the MTA’s subways and buses in “early summer.”

People who want to use Apple Pay to ride the MTA will need to download the latest version of iOS (12.3) and watchOS (5.2.1), and then authenticate a credit or debit card to use with a new feature called Express Transit. After that, you won’t need to open an app or unlock your phone to use it with the MTA.

It’s part of the MTA’s public test of its new fare payment system called OMNY, which stands for “One Metro New York.” To start out, this tap-to-pay system will only be available on the 4/5/6 subway lines between Grand Central Station in Manhattan and Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center in Brooklyn, as well as the buses in Staten Island.

At a demonstration May 21st during the morning rush at Grand Central Station, an Apple employee used her iPhone and then Apple Watch to pay for a ride on the subway. Both times she placed her device up against a smooth, rectangular panel ringed in blue light attached to the bottom part of the turnstile, and both times the light turned green with the message “Go,” followed by a familiar click of the metal arm unlocking.

(Almost immediately, another woman shouldered her way past, swiping her MetroCard and passing through the already unlocked turnstile while ignoring the green lit screen.)

Last week, Google announced Google Pay could be used to ride the MTA on May 31st as well. To use Google Pay for the MTA, you won’t need to open an app or unlock your phone, though you will need to download the Google Pay app.

Apple and Google’s respective pay apps can only be used on a per-ride basis, at least to start. Monthly unlimited passes and other discount options aren’t supported yet, but experts are holding out hope that the new OMNY system proves to be more equitable than the MetroCard.

New York City isn’t the first city to allow people to use contactless, NFC-based payment apps like Apple Pay and Google Pay to ride transit. A number of cities in the US and overseas already accept contactless payments to ride public transportation, including Portland, Chicago, London, Moscow, Sydney, and Singapore.

Earlier this month, Apple announced that residents of Portland and Vancouver could add their Hop Fastpass to their Apple Wallet and use their iPhone of Apple Watch to ride TriMet, C-TRAN, and the Portland Streetcar. Google announced the same in April 2018.