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The Perils of OMNY: A Cautionary Tale in New York City

As a frequent traveler, I’ve marveled at the seamless public transit systems in cities like Bangkok, Singapore, and Tokyo. So when the MTA unveiled its new OMNY contactless payment system, I was thrilled that New York was finally catching up with the times. The promise of simply tapping my phone or card to board seemed like a dream come true.

Little did I know, it would soon become a nightmare.
#ShareIfYouCare #CrosstownBusNightmare #NeverTapAgain

New York, N.Y. One recent afternoon, I tapped my phone on the OMNY reader as I boarded a crosstown bus. The screen flashed “GO,” and I took my seat, feeling smug about embracing this modern convenience. However, my satisfaction was short-lived when a squad of MTA police officers boarded and began checking everyone’s receipts or phone statements.

Despite having followed the instructions and being granted entry, my bank statement showed no record of the payment. Protests fell on deaf ears as four of us were unceremoniously ordered off the bus, surrounded by burly officers who seemed more interested in flexing their authority than hearing our explanations.

The Humiliation and Consequences

The humiliation of being publicly escorted off the bus like a common criminal was bad enough, but the consequences didn’t end there. Not only was I issued a $100 fine that could potentially tarnish my record, but I was also left stranded, forced to reschedule a crucial doctor’s appointment – a significant inconvenience.

Insult was added to injury when, hours later, the charge finally appeared on my statement, confirming that I had indeed paid the fare. But by then, the damage was done.

The Plot Thickens

I called my credit card company and they said that when I swipe my cell in the subway, it registers “MTA,” but when I swiped on the bus, it registered as “NYC go now” or something. And because I usually take the subway and not the bus, it was the first time that new charge hit my card. So they held up payment deeming it suspicious and didn’t approve it for 12 hours.

In short, the fault seems to lie with both MTA and my credit card company. I don’t really care whose fault it was, I was still kicked off the bus by uniformed police, missed my medical appointment, and was fined $100. This so-called seamless experience is full of wrinkles. It is simply not for me anymore.

A Broken System

The MTA’s heavy-handed approach and lack of understanding or flexibility in dealing with a clearly flawed system is appalling. Why should I, or any law-abiding citizen, cooperate with an agency that humiliates and penalizes us for their own technological shortcomings?

Until the OMNY system is refined and its enforcers are trained to handle such situations with more empathy and common sense, I’ll be steering clear of this so-called “convenience.” The MTA has lost my trust and my business. I, for one, will never tap again.

Photos: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit

The Perils of OMNY: A Cautionary Tale in New York City (May 7, 2024)

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© 2024 The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness – Towards Global Citizenship is published by The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation Supporting & Educating Young Global Leaders is affiliated with Orphans International Worldwide, Raising Global Citizens. If supporting youth is important to you, subscribe to J. Luce Foundation updates here.

Jim Luce
Jim Luce
Raising, Supporting & Educating Young Global Leaders through Orphans International Worldwide (, the J. Luce Foundation (, and The Stewardship Report ( Jim is also founder and president of the New York Global Leaders Lions Club.


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