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Can Cubic, the company behind the new OMNY Tap-and-Go NYC turnstiles, meet demand?

6 months ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in

Cubic, the same company that brought London the Oyster Card, Chicago the ChicagoCard, and Los Angeles the TAP card, is now busy bringing New York City the OMNY card. Or, so one would think.

So far, the company has successfully installed OMNY card-free readers on the MTA's 4, 5, and 6 lines. It has plans to roll out OMNY to commuter rail systems as well.

And... so far, that's it. Today, the MTA announced that OMNY has reached the 1-million-ride milestone as a bit of a victory lap.

Reaching one million rides “affirms the acceptance by our customers who find it unbelievably convenient,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye. “New Yorkers are tech savvy and willing to try a new technology.

While celebrating OMNY's limited acceptance and usage by New York commuters, the real test, clearly, will be when the new technology is available throughout the system and not just on one subway line.

OMNY is a big deal for Cubic, which made 56% of its 2018 $1.2 billion in revenue from its transportation division (it also does everything from air combat training to "Rugged IoT" solutions). The MTA contract, signed in 2017, is worth $540 million.

But how is Cubic spending that money, and is it on pace to roll out OMNY throughout the NYC MTA in a fashion that will assure its success?

We can get a sense of Cubic's reinvestment in the proejct by looking at its hiring activity. After the 2017 contract award, Cubic indeed went on a bit of a hiring spree. Since then, however, hiring activity has flattened out a bit.

Job opening locations remain focused on San Diego, where Cubic is headquartered. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but hiring in New York City has stalled to just one position as of this week.

Given the MTA's implication that the OMNY pilot has been successful, it's likely that Cubic will be awarded further contracts to bring "Tap-n-Go" to the rest of New York's commuter system. But, for now, there doesn't appear to be a lot of movement on the part of the company.

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Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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