The MTA of New York has done a lot of work to bring their payment system into the present. Previously, the only way to pay your fare on a bus or subway was to use a Metrocard. The system was horribly outdated, overly confusing, and left tourists with random amounts of money left on their cards at the end of a trip.
On our most recent trip, using the subway from JFK to lower Manhattan and getting from our hotel to Times Square, we didn’t have to use a Metrocard. That’s because the city has completed the task of installing OMNY contactless readers at every subway station and on every city bus. I tapped my iPhone and Sharon used her Apple Watch to pay our fare. Using the Express Transit feature, we didn’t even need to unlock our devices before making the payment.
This doesn’t mean we could do without a Metrocard since the turnstiles to get out of the JFK Airtrain stations at Jamaica Station and Howard Beach do not have OMNY readers, yet.
Until then, you’re forced to use your Metrocard to pay the $7.75 fare. If you don’t already have a Metrocard, tack on an additional $1 for a new card.
I knew this, but I hadn’t added a Metrocard to my “travel wallet shuffle” list. Fortunately, Sharon had a card stuffed in the back of her wallet. It had a $0 balance and expired 6 months ago, but that was no matter. It still would save us some money.
I walked to the machine and went to add funds to a card. When I put in the expired card, the machine asked if I wanted to exchange the old card for a new one. I tapped “yes,” and it spit out my old card. I added $15.50 to the new card (the exact fare for 2 Airtrain rides) and paid for the reload.
I’m not even going to get into discussing why the machine doesn’t offer $7.75 or multiples thereof as an option, favoring choices of $10 and up. I had to manually type how much I wanted to load on the card to prevent a balance from remaining when we were finished.
Once the Airtrain at JFK completes the changeover, we’ll not need a Metrocard. That’s good because the MTA will discontinue them in 2023 in favor of a newly launched OMNY card.
Until then, I’ll keep a Metrocard in my wallet when we travel to New York in case of emergencies.
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