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You won't be able to use your phone to pay for an NYC subway ride until 2021

A long goodbye for the MetroCard.

Andrew Renneisen / Getty Images

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority finally released its public bid for a mobile, contactless ticketing system, but don’t expect to use your iPhone to pay for a ride on the A train anytime soon. After it picks a private vendor to install the new fare payment system, the MTA says the contract will have a duration of 69 months, which means it won’t be up and running until at least 2021. And given the MTA’s track record for completing projects on time, probably even later than that.

So how will it work? In the request for proposals that was posted today, the MTA says it will be “an integrated, reliable and convenient fare payment and collection system” that allows bus and train customers to pay fares by tapping a contactless bank card, smartphone or smart card against an electronic reader. In other words, say goodbye to the iconic yellow MetroCard that’s been around since 2003, when it replaced subway tokens. And say hello to something completely different.

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