Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mobile ticketing looms for LIRR, Metro-North

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New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said Monday, April 28, 2014 its rail customers on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and Metro-North Railroad "are one step closer to buying and getting tickets scanned right on their smart phones and tablets."

MTA said it expects to award Masabi, LLC a contract on Wednesday, April 30, for the program, pending approval by the MTA Board.

The contract, generating much local media attention, would enable LIRR and Metro-North customers to purchase a train ticket before boarding by using a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device, and then display the ticket on screen for inspection by a conductor. Conductors would visually verify the digital ticket, or could use handheld devices to scan and validate tickets.

"The convenient new option would let railroad customers avoid waiting in line to buy tickets at stations," MTA said in a statement. "It would complement the recently released commuter railroad Train Time apps, which have proven immensely popular with customers."

Said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast, "This is a step forward as we look to use the latest technologies available to make fare payment at all our agencies easier, faster, and more convenient."

MTA cautioned that each railroad might roll out the new service differently, phasing in access for one-way, ten-trip, weekly, and/or monthly ticket types.

Metro-North Railroad, which handled this procurement for itself and the LIRR, received 11 proposals seeking a mobile ticketing supplier in March 2013. Masabi was one of four firms that were short-listed for more intensive evaluation, MTA said, noting Masabi is also implementing mobile ticketing programs for MBTA rail service in metropolitan Boston, Metropolitan Transit System bus and light rail services in San Diego, and NICE Bus on Long Island.