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A big change is coming soon to the New York City transit system. According to a report from The New York Times, the transit system will move towards replacing the MetroCard with contactless payments via platforms such as Apple Pay. The full rollout will take several years, but it’s a step in the right direction.

A committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved plans for a $573 million fare payment system today. The agreement will see new contactless readers be installed at 500 subway turnstiles and on 600 city buses beginning in late 2018. The rest of the stations and buses will be outfitted with the new system by the end of 2020.

MetroCards wont be phased out until 2023, 30 years after their initial introduction. Instead of a MetroCard, users will be able to simply wave their smartphone in front of the payment reader. Specific details are somewhat unclear at this stage, but the readers will support NFC technologies like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. There will also be contactless cards – which are cards with an NFC chip embedded inside. That option removes the need for a smartphone or Apple Watch.

Officials hope that the move towards contactless transactions for subways and buses will make the process of boarding significantly quicker. Currently, the New York City transit system is bogged down by long lines, delays, and other issues – not all of which stem from the payment process, of course.

“It’s the next step in bringing us into the 21st century, which we need to do,” said Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the transit authority. “It’s going to be transformative.”

“The millennial generation, those who are more prone to new technology, will be our greatest users in the early stages,” Mr. Lhota said. He added that card issuers “are going to want to be a part of it” and would add the near-field technology “when they realize that 5.8 to 6 million people in New York City are getting on the subway every day.”

It won’t be until 2020 that all buses and subway stations will be outfitted with Apple Pay, but New York City is committed to adopting NFC technology and this is a step in that direction. Only time will tell how smoothly this rollout goes. Last year, the MTA eTix app gained Apple Pay support, allowing riders to use Apple Pay to purchase tickets.

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Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

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