The MTA is well on its way to replacing MetroCards with OMNY in 2023: The cardless tap-to-pay system is now in every subway station and on every bus, and one in six fares are paid with a tap. But so far, OMNY hasn’t had an option for unlimited rides. That changed, at least temporarily, with the MTA’s announcement on Wednesday of a new fare-capping promotional deal: Starting March 1, riders will tap to pay $2.75 a ride until they hit $33, the price of a seven-day unlimited MetroCard. Under the pilot plan, after those first 12 rides, the rest of the week is free. There is no end date for the promotion, but it is, at least for now, temporary.
OMNY users have been asking for a MetroCard-style fare discount (which applies to subways, buses, and the Staten Island Railway) ever since the system was launched in 2019. But it’s not early adopters who have the most to gain here: Fare capping means that lower-income riders avoid the upfront investment that an unlimited card requires. Everyone will, effectively, pay that weekly $33 in increments as they use the system, instead of in one shot.
Right now, the fare cap is an attempt to lure back riders (and get them to switch to OMNY). Toward that same goal, the MTA is also rolling out new discounted Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North ticket packs. But state lawmakers see it more in terms of the equity question: They want to make sure that the switch to OMNY means no one spends more than the price of an unlimited card on subway rides. State Senator Andrew Gounardes introduced a bill in late October that would make something like the new promotional cap permanent.