One Metro New York (OMNY) devices at a subway station...

One Metro New York (OMNY) devices at a subway station in New York, US, on Thursday, June 30, 2022. The MTA is not exactly giving up OMNY, but rather incorporating it into their TrainTime app. Officials said that in the future, there will be an option to pay for your LIRR fare with a tap system, but there will be a surcharge. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg Credit: Bloomberg/Jeenah Moon

It may take until the end of 2025 before Nassau’s 70,000 daily bus riders have access to the MTA’s OMNY fare payment system — and the free transfers to city buses and subways that come with it, according to officials.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority earlier this week unveiled its overhauled Long Island rollout plan for OMNY, the contactless fare payment already in use throughout the MTA’s subway and bus system. It aims to replace the MTA’s 30-year-old MetroCard, which is accepted by Nassau’s public bus system, the Nassau Inter-County Express, or NICE.

Under the MTA’s new schedule, installation of OMNY in NICE and other affiliated bus systems would begin in the first quarter of 2025, and be completed by the end of next year. NICE officials originally expected to have the technology in place by the end of 2020.

Asked about the reason for the holdups, Jessie Lazarus, senior director of commercial initiatives for the MTA, said Wednesday at the MTA Board meeting “there are a handful of agreements and technological” issues to be worked out ahead of the installation.

At a meeting of Nassau’s Bus Transit Committee earlier this month, NICE CEO Jack Khzouz said the county bus system has “made a lot of progress with the MTA” over the last year, advancing plans to install the technology throughout the fleet of 284 buses, plus, potentially, more than 100 paratransit vehicles.

“We’ve been asked about this for five years . . . That’s a big, big project, which means that every bus will have scanners and readers and new fare boxes,” said Khzouz, adding that the NICE officials are waiting on “hardware and software issues” to be resolved. “We’re ready.”

In a statement Wednesday, NICE spokesperson Mark Smith said, "the NICE Team will work with the MTA to deploy new fare payment technology as it becomes available in order to provide seamless travel for our riders."

Three quarters of MTA bus and subway customers are already using OMNY. But until the system is installed on NICE, they won’t be able to get the free transfers to and from Nassau buses that they’ve been accustomed to with the MetroCard for decades. MetroCard users account for nearly half of all Nassau bus riders, according to NICE.

“Nassau bus riders . . . are just going to be left out, and that’s a problem,” said Charlton D’souza, president of Passengers United, a transit rider advocacy group.

D’souza noted that NICE’s most popular routes, including the n4 and n6, connect with MTA bus and subways in Queens. In addition to the free transfers, NICE Bus riders are losing out on other benefits of OMNY, including a fare cap system that stops charging riders after they’ve paid $34 in fares within a week.

“The MTA has an obligation to Nassau County,” D’souza. “Even though it doesn’t run NICE Bus, it’s still making money off of NICE Bus customers.”

A spokesperson for Cubic, the firm hired by the MTA to develop OMNY, said the company has been “hard at work with our MTA partners to rollout OMNY based on the agreed upon schedule.”

“. . . We are excited to expand its reach to help Long Island NICE . . . bus riders access public transportation as seamlessly as possible,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The MTA Board on Wednesday also finalized a $97 million plan to incorporate OMNY’s functionality into the Long Island Rail Road’s TrainTime app, and to spend another $134 million to replace 471 paper ticket vending machines throughout the LIRR and sister railroad Metro-North.

Although about 70% of LIRR customers already buy their tickets electronically using their phones, MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber said the agency is keeping paper tickets around for riders “who rely on cash transactions.”

It may take until the end of 2025 before Nassau’s 70,000 daily bus riders have access to the MTA’s OMNY fare payment system — and the free transfers to city buses and subways that come with it, according to officials.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority earlier this week unveiled its overhauled Long Island rollout plan for OMNY, the contactless fare payment already in use throughout the MTA’s subway and bus system. It aims to replace the MTA’s 30-year-old MetroCard, which is accepted by Nassau’s public bus system, the Nassau Inter-County Express, or NICE.

Under the MTA’s new schedule, installation of OMNY in NICE and other affiliated bus systems would begin in the first quarter of 2025, and be completed by the end of next year. NICE officials originally expected to have the technology in place by the end of 2020.

Asked about the reason for the holdups, Jessie Lazarus, senior director of commercial initiatives for the MTA, said Wednesday at the MTA Board meeting “there are a handful of agreements and technological” issues to be worked out ahead of the installation.

At a meeting of Nassau’s Bus Transit Committee earlier this month, NICE CEO Jack Khzouz said the county bus system has “made a lot of progress with the MTA” over the last year, advancing plans to install the technology throughout the fleet of 284 buses, plus, potentially, more than 100 paratransit vehicles.

“We’ve been asked about this for five years . . . That’s a big, big project, which means that every bus will have scanners and readers and new fare boxes,” said Khzouz, adding that the NICE officials are waiting on “hardware and software issues” to be resolved. “We’re ready.”

In a statement Wednesday, NICE spokesperson Mark Smith said, "the NICE Team will work with the MTA to deploy new fare payment technology as it becomes available in order to provide seamless travel for our riders."

Three quarters of MTA bus and subway customers are already using OMNY. But until the system is installed on NICE, they won’t be able to get the free transfers to and from Nassau buses that they’ve been accustomed to with the MetroCard for decades. MetroCard users account for nearly half of all Nassau bus riders, according to NICE.

“Nassau bus riders . . . are just going to be left out, and that’s a problem,” said Charlton D’souza, president of Passengers United, a transit rider advocacy group.

D’souza noted that NICE’s most popular routes, including the n4 and n6, connect with MTA bus and subways in Queens. In addition to the free transfers, NICE Bus riders are losing out on other benefits of OMNY, including a fare cap system that stops charging riders after they’ve paid $34 in fares within a week.

“The MTA has an obligation to Nassau County,” D’souza. “Even though it doesn’t run NICE Bus, it’s still making money off of NICE Bus customers.”

A spokesperson for Cubic, the firm hired by the MTA to develop OMNY, said the company has been “hard at work with our MTA partners to rollout OMNY based on the agreed upon schedule.”

“. . . We are excited to expand its reach to help Long Island NICE . . . bus riders access public transportation as seamlessly as possible,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The MTA Board on Wednesday also finalized a $97 million plan to incorporate OMNY’s functionality into the Long Island Rail Road’s TrainTime app, and to spend another $134 million to replace 471 paper ticket vending machines throughout the LIRR and sister railroad Metro-North.

Although about 70% of LIRR customers already buy their tickets electronically using their phones, MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber said the agency is keeping paper tickets around for riders “who rely on cash transactions.”

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