MTA's OMNY system faces new delays in connecting LIRR, Metro-North and more

OMNY expansion delayed; officials blame lack of resources, staffing

NEW YORK -- The MTA's new contactless payment system for transportation throughout the metropolitan region is facing new delays based on staffing shortages and apparent management failures at the fiscally strapped agency. 

It's unclear when the system will connect Metro-North, the Long Island Rail Road and suburban bus systems. 

The MTA's much heralded OMNY tap-and-go payment system was on full display at the Columbus Circle subway station Tuesday. Rider after rider was swiping a phone or credit card to ride the rails. 

The regional system, however, is way behind schedule. The blame is apparently shared by both the MTA and the company hired to install it. 

"There have been insufficient resources at our contractor, Cubic," MTA President of Construction and Development Jamie Torres-Springer said. "And also internally, within the MTA, we have struggled to properly staff the project, leading to milestones being missed." 

The system's promise of a single-fare system linking the entire region appears to have withered away. Already, PATH has decided to construct its own system. 

Torres-Springer freely admitted the scope of the problem at a recent board meeting. 

"There's been frustration... that we haven't been able to support more rapid rollout to our affiliates and partners, like AirTrain, some of the suburban bus lines, Roosevelt operating, Roosevelt Island Tram, who have been increasingly anxious to get in to the OMNY system," Torres-Springer said. 

There are also delays in installing OMNY on the MTA's commuter railroads, Metro-North and the LIRR. The MTA recently approved funds to keep the current ticketing system, called TrainTime, in operation until 2026, while it finalizes plans for OMNY. 

"The first thing you've got to do when you have a project that's not succeeding is be honest with yourself," MTA CEO Janno Lieber said. "The project's schedule is going to be torn apart. The staffing is torn apart, and put back together." 

Asked when the system will be fully functional, Torres-Springer told CBS2 in a statement, "There is no question technology has changed since we started OMNY, and that is why the MTA is taking a fresh look at our delivery schedule so we can deliver all of OMNY's potential to millions of daily transit riders."

Officials say 44% of MTA customers now use OMNY. 

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