The Metro-North Railroad announced this week that next month it will launch a mobile ticketing pilot program that lets passengers buy and view tickets on their iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry smartphones. According to Metro, participants in the trial (just railway employees) will be allowed to download the free app to their phone and use a credit or debit card to buy a ticket. Then, train conductors will check the screen of the phone and validate the ticket, either visually or with a hand scanner. Metro-North stated that if the pilot is successful then it will expand to include customers. It is estimated that the train service carries about 141,000 passengers a day, most who tend to take two trips daily.
Howard Permut, Metro-North President, said in a statement that, “We are as excited to begin testing the next generation ticket selling technology as we were when we introduced ticket vending machines a quarter of a century ago.”
The MTA stated that it is too early to tell if they will consider a similar system for the subway, which is a much bigger transport service with millions of daily riders. If this digital trail is successful, Metro-North will use a competitive bidding process for choosing a tech provider to be its partner on the project.