The MetroCard's days are numbered.
Though SecondAvenueSagas admits the process will take a while, the MTA will soon put out a request for proposals on what will replace MetroCards.
The two biggest reasons for phasing out the cards are cost savings, and the elimination of fraud.
When the MetroCard goes, the MTA will begin to save on fare collection costs. By eliminating the proprietary infrastructure behind the MetroCard, the MTA can cut down significantly on the amount of money it spends to collect fares, and thus its revenue from fares will increase. That's, at least, the intended consequence. One of the other consequence -- call it a semi-unintended consequence -- concerns MetroCard scams.
As for what could replace MetroCards, there are already several stations which accept payment via "smart cards" like Master Cards with "PayPass" chips embedded in them.
Back in June, NBC New York reported that the MTA considered implementing "EasyPay" cards, which are similar to the current MetroCards but could be replenished by using a credit card online.
The MTA isn't the quickest to adapt new tech and phase out the old. Case in point: "no tokens" is still displayed on every single turnstile, even though tokens were completely phased out in 2003.
One thing's for sure -- if the MetroCard is abolished, then artist Thomas McKean will have to find a new canvas.