The the Long Island Railroad and the Metro-North Rail Road in New York are running trials that will allow customers to redeem fare purchases with the scan of a bar code.
The transaction works similar to the way customers make purchases using the Starbucks mobile wallet. Instead of displaying a bar code to a barista, commuters using smartphones show the codes to conductors.
Metro-North is working with payments technology vendor Masabi US Ltd. to test a smartphone app to will deploy the technology, the agency said in its monthly newsletter Mileposts.
Similarly, the LIRR is partnering with Long Island technology company CooCoo to launch a limited pilot during the upcoming Barclays PGA Tour this month for passengers traveling through Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale.
Passengers can use a bar code displayed on printouts or a smartphone screen, says LIRR spokesman Joe Calderone.
"It's a very limited pilot," he says. "But it's really something the Long Island Rail Road has been eager to test; mobile ticketing is something that we are very interested in."
Over the past two years, industry-wide, there has been a push to use the technology, Calderone says. That focus intensified over the past six months as more and more companies are "entering the fray," says Calderone.
Both the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs Metro-North, and the LIRR have plans to expand these types of programs over the next several years, he says.
Internationally, transportation has always been a leading indicator of payments technology, says Mahesh Makhija, Infosys' head of financial services in the Americas.
"Increasingly the economics of printing tickets and distributing tickets and the convenience to consumers will start driving adoptions," he says.
Bar codes are the easiest way today to start introducing the technology to consumers, Makhija says.
"That's what's going to happen first," he says. "As we figure out the whole confusion around NFC and some of the other parts that need to be standardized, I think it's an easy, quick way that is stable and robust."