Metro-North to test smartphone-based paperless ticketsBy
As New York City Transit’s effort to replace the MetroCard with something a bit more modern slowly inches forward, Metro-North will be testing a smartphone-based paperless ticket system this summer. The railroad announced today a project in conjunction with Masabi that will allow its riders to user a smartphone app to buy tickets. Eventually, there will be no need for cash, frustrating lines at ticket machines or steep on-board surcharges for last-minute purchases.
“We are as excited to begin testing the next generation ticket selling technology as we were when we introduced ticket vending machines a quarter of a century ago,” Metro-North President Howard Permut said in a statement. “Our customers adapted quickly to TVMs and the machines became the preferred way to buy tickets. The latest test is intended to ensure that the newest technology will be equally easy to use, as well as secure and reliable.”
The initial pilot, however, is a strange one as Metro-North employees will act as guinea pigs. They’ll have the free app on their phones and will purchase the tickets — any type — for use. The e-tickets will show an image a conductor can then validate with a barcode scanner. The initial pilot will include a time measurement study to compare electronic purchases with on-board transactions and inspection efforts. The MTA will also keep an eye on anti-fraud measures before decided whether or not to expand this program to all riders.
I expect this to be a smooth and quick pilt. Masabi is a leader in the field in the U.K. with smartphone ticketing apps available for 13 rail agencies. The company is also assisted the MBTA in a smartphone ticketing project as well. The only drawback I see here is that the LIRR isn’t involved. Provincial agency turf lines know no bounds, it seems.