NYC trials smartphone ticketing


New York's MTA Metro-North railroad to test smartphone ticketing this summer with Masabi

The largest commuter rail network in the US is set to go paperless in a smartphone ticketing trial. MTA Metro North Rail Railroad, which serves New York and the wider state, is set to begin a closed smartphone ticketing trial that will enable commuters to buy their train tickets anywhere, anytime and never have to hold a piece of paper.

Working with transit mobile ticketing specialist, Masabi US, MTA Metro North Rail Railroad will begin testing a smartphone app next month that will eventually let users buy an electronic ticket that will download to their mobile phone with a 2D Aztec barcode.

During the initial part of the pilot that runs over August, select users from the MTA Metro North Rail Railroad's staff will be positioned along the route so that train ticket inspectors, or conductors as they are known in the US, can patrol trains checking the 2D barcodes using special scanners, along with regular paper tickets. This time measurement study will compare the new method to current on-board ticket selling, collection and inspection. Efficacy and anti-fraud measures also will be tested. If the pace is fast enough, the trial will be opened further so that members of the Railroad's staff can then use the app to buy and display tickets, and following that, it may be opened to members of the public.

If the trial is successful, users will be able to download the free app to their iPhone, Android or Blackberry phones. Through the app, these users can buy any type of ticket with any origin and destination, using their credit or debit cards to make the purchase.  Masabi's technology means that when near field communication (NFC) technology becomes more prevalent on smartphones, the system can allow tickets to be checked or gates opened by simply tapping a compatible device against a reader.

Said Metro North president, Howard Permut: 'We are as excited to begin testing the next generation ticket selling technology as we were when we introduced ticket vending machines (TVM) a quarter of a century ago. Our customers adapted quickly to TVM's and they 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.'

While Giacomo Biggiero, director of Masabi US, added: 'Smartphones have the potential to transform the public transit systems across the US. Passengers will be able to quickly and easily find, buy and display tickets on their phones wherever they are without having to worry about carrying cash or waiting in line, thereby providing a better commuter experience. We're delighted to be working with the MTA.' Masabi US is also working with Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to introduce a smartphone rail ticketing system this autumn. The company's technology also is used by 13 of the UK's transit agencies, including Virgin Trains, Cross Country Trains, Chiltern Railways and


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