No cash? No worries: MBTA

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Beginning this fall, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail passengers will be able to purchase tickets onboard with a credit or debit card from conductors equipped with smartphones

Beginning this fall, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail passengers will be able to purchase tickets onboard with a credit or debit card from conductors equipped with smartphones

Keolis Commuter Services, the MBTA’s contract operator, says the new mobile point of sale (POS) system is a first for the T, and has been tested and refined. During July and August, it will be expanded to include all conductors.

The technology consists of an app on the conductor’s existing company-issued smartphone, which is now paired with a handheld Bluetooth printer. Using the mobile POS app on his or her smartphone, the conductor selects the station-to-station information to calculate the zone and fare, and processes the transaction.

Passengers paying with a credit card onboard will receive a printed ticket receipt that provides trip details, including the date, station of origin and final destination. Passengers can continue to pay onboard with cash or the mTicket app. They can also purchase a ticket through a Ticket Vending Machine or at a ticket office.

“Since it launched in February, the program has processed thousands of onboard credit card transactions, and passenger feedback on this new feature has been very positive,” Keolis said. “Most riders say it is a fast, easy and convenient option, and it allows them to keep money in their pocket for purchases that require cash. Today, approximately 46 conductors, or 10% of the total conductor workforce, are using these systems and accept credit card payments onboard trains.”

“This upgrade gives our customers an additional, convenient way to pay fares, and gives conductors another way to sell onboard tickets that is easier and simpler than using cash and counting change,” said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez. “As we plan for the future of fare collection that is fully integrated across all modes, this new technology shows that we’ll continue to look for improvements under the existing system.”

“This is a feature our passengers requested, and we’re pleased so far with the rollout of the technology,” said David Scorey, CEO and General Manager, Keolis. “It’s just as fast as processing alternative payment options onboard trains, it offers a new feature for our passengers and it provides us with more detailed ridership data. This is a positive modernization initiative for commuter rail riders that we plan to have fully available this fall.”

Keolis Commuter Services operates and maintains the MBTA’s commuter rail system. The fifth largest commuter rail operation in North America, the system carries approximately 127,000 daily passengers throughout the greater Boston area and services 138 stations over 394 miles. Keolis Commuter Services is a subsidiary of Keolis North America, both headquartered in Boston, and employs approximately 2,500 people throughout the region. Both are part of Keolis Group, which operates passenger services (rail and bus) in 16 countries.

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