In just a few years, NYC’s iconic yellow MetroCards may be just as obsolete as the subway tokens of yore (remember those?). Word on the street is that the MTA has decided to phase the cards out by 2019 and replace them with a yet-to-be decided payment technology. The announcement comes on the heels of the ubiquitous fare card’s 20th anniversary.

Image © abbyg122

“MetroCards is a system that is reaching the end of its useful life,” said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz. “Its equipment is on the verge of becoming obsolete.” But what could be the replacement for the double-edged cards, which have helped increase subway ridership to 1.6 billion people while also polluting the city’s waterways?

The MTA reportedly considered reusable plastic cards that you tap instead of swipe to get past a turnstile like the SmarTrip card system in Washington, D.C. or the TAP card system in Los Angeles. However, that idea was dismissed in favor of either credit or debit card automatic deductions or smart phone mobile ticketing that would be tappable like the Visa Paywave app that the transit agency tested in 2010. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority introduced the nation’s first smart phone ticketing system in 2012 for Boston’s commuter rail.

Other proposals from tech companies will be considered with a contract granted for the new ticketing system likely in 2015.

Via Fast Company

Lead image via John Boren