MTA Fare Tech: Commuter Rail Today, Subway and Bus Tomorrow?

This week, the MTA unveiled eTix, a new fare payment app that will allow passengers on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North to bypass fare machine lines and pay for commuter rail tickets on their smartphone.

With this app, the MTA is joining rail operators around the world, and others in the region (including NJ Transit), that have shifted towards mobile ticketing. And while moving away from relying solely on paper tickets is a big step for the massive transit agency, experts are quick to clarify that the MTA is merely playing catch up when it comes to new transit technology.

“The MTA is pretty far behind—we have missed an entire generation of fare media,” RPA’s Vice President of Transportation Rich Barone recently told the Wall Street Journal.

The introduction of eTix for LIRR and Metro North is only one piece of a system-wide overhaul the agency is undertaking to modernize the way it collects transit fares. The MTA has issued an RFP for a new fare payment system that would also replace the Metrocard for the agency’s subways and buses.

RPA released a six-point brief on the opportunities that new fare technology creates for the MTA and its riders, including the potential to speed buses, reduce crowding and make the stations more accessible. A number of groups have also encouraged the MTA to ensure the new fare technology is electronic, and doesn’t require paper tickets.


Photo: Passengers by Leticia Roncero // Flickr Creative Commons

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