The end of physical MetroCard is approaching. Apple Pay Express Transit feature will start rolling out to MTA subway and bus stations on Friday, May 31st. This contactless system, which also works with Apple Watch, is as seamless as you might expect: You just hold your device next to the screen on an upgraded tap-to-pay turnstile and, within a second, you’ll see a message on the reader that says “GO” and you’re on your way.
You will need the Express Transit app. you’ll have to make sure you’re running iOS 12.3 and watchOS 5.2.1 on your iPhone or Watch.
Express Transit works with the latest iPhone and Watch models, of course, plus the iPhone SE, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, Watch Series 1 and Watch Series 2. At launch, riders in NYC will only be able to use the new Apple Pay feature on all Staten Island buses, as well as 16 subway stations on the 4, 5 and 6 lines between Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center (Brooklyn) and Grand Central-42 Street (Manhattan).
Aside from the limited number of stations supported, Express Transit will only let people pay for single-fare rides at first — which will be disappointing to those who rely on weekly and monthly fares to save some money. But that’s part of the MTA’s plan to gradually implement its One Metro New York (OMNY) contactless payment system and, by 2023, replace the swipeable MetroCards that have been around since 1993. Apple’s announcement follows news from last week that Google Pay, too, will be supported by MTA subway stations and buses starting on May 31st.
A spokesperson for the MTA told Engadget more stations and buses will get the OMNY overhaul toward the end of the year, adding that the hope is to have services like Apple Pay Express Transit and Google Pay working across the entire NYC transit system by the end of 2020. That means week- and month-fare passes are, eventually, going to be supported. As for when Express Transit will expand to other cities in the US, Apple said it had nothing to share beyond the fact it will be coming to Chicago soon.