At an authority committee meeting last month, officials suggested that a single unfortunate bet had disrupted the project: While other transit agencies invested in contactless payment systems that they would construct themselves, the authority had hoped to evade the burden and cost of building its own. So the agency planned to replace MetroCards with riders’ own contactless bank cards, embedded with computer chips to facilitate fare payment without a swipe.
But banks did not issue the cards widely enough in recent years, officials said, scuttling a plan to introduce a new system as early as 2012.
The setback has placed New York City behind the pace of increasingly contactless transit systems in cities like Chicago and even Philadelphia — where tokens have long been prevalent — burdening an already aging system with a fare card that officials say costs too much and does too little.
Philly's only "increasingly contactless" in the sense that supposedly a system is on its way. Still using tokens here.