US transit networks gear up for chip cards and mobile payments

US transit networks gear up for chip cards and mobile payments

Washington Metro has joined Chicago and New York in making plans to accept contactless bank payment cards at the turnstile, as a mass-market switch to EMV-based chip cards appears increasingly likely.

Washingto Metro has awarded Accenture a $184 million contract to to replace the existing fare collection systems for Metrorail, Metro-operated parking facilities, Metrobus and MetroAccess services.

The new system will enable passengers to continue to use existing SmarTrip cards, while expanding fare payment to chip-enabled credit cards, federal government ID cards, and mobile phones using near field communications (NFC).

"While Metro pioneered the tap and go system we currently use, by today's standards that system is cumbersome and the technology is not sustainable," says Metro general manager and CEO Richard Sarles. "The new technology will provide more flexibility for accounts, better reliability for riders, and real choices for customers to use bank-issued payment cards, credit cards, ID cards, or mobile phones to pay their Metro fares."

The news from Washington coincides with a decision by the Chicago Transit Authority to convert to an open-fare payment system dubbed Ventra that is run by Cubic Transportation Systems.

In New York, meanwhile, the 20th anniversary of the Metropolitan Transit Authority's Metro Card sparked reports that the MTA wants to junk the card in favour of EMV chip cards and mobile payments.

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