June 3, 2010 By Russell Nichols
Photo: Smart cards and card readers will be tested in New York and New Jersey buses and subways / Metropolitan Transportation Authority
If a new pilot runs smoothly, public transit riders in New York and New Jersey may soon be swiping out the ubiquitous MetroCards for "smart cards" that allow them to ride subways and buses with a single tap.
Launched Tuesday, June 1, by the region's three transit agencies, the six-month pilot program will test technology where customers can tap credit or debit cards with a computer chip on fare scanners to pay for trips throughout the region. New York state's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and New Jersey Transit linked up with MasterCard for the pilot.
In the past few years, MasterCard's PayPass system has already popped up in gas stations, convenience stores and stadiums. Transportation officials believe this tap-and-go technology could possibly revamp the interstate transit system: Commuters experience the convenience of simply tapping a credit card to make travel payments; transit agencies cut down on operating costs by eliminating the need to produce multiple MetroCards and collect the fare. Unlike smart cards, MetroCards are prepaid electronic fare cards that can be purchased from vending machines or subway stops.
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