Transit continues to be a test case for mobile payments. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Masabi US Ltd. announced they're partnering on mobile ticketing to MBTA commuter rail riders this fall. An app will allow customers to purchase commuter rail tickets and passes and then use and display the tickets directly via their iPhone, Blackberry or Android device.

"MassDOT and the MBTA are striving to bring our customers convenience without added costs. We are delivering just that with this project and this technology,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey.

MBTA's acting GM Jonathan Davis said the program will put "a ticket machine right in the palms of our customers' hands."

Fewer than half of MBTA’s 140 commuter rail stations have fare vending machines, forcing many customers to pay for tickets on board, MBTA said. However, MBTA said riders will be able to buy tickets directly on their mobile devices using a debit or credit card. Additionally, monthly pass holders will use a barcode on their phone as their ticket to replace the "CharlieCard" pass they carry now. MBTA said the new solution will reduce costs by eliminating the need for additional vending machines and lowering cash handling costs.

Masabi will be providing a comprehensive m-ticketing solution, including consumer-facing applications, backend servers, payment integration and scanning/validation software for train conductors, the announcement said.

"By placing a personalized ticket machine in the pocket of commuters, they can now buy tickets wherever they are, faster than ever before,” said Giacomo Biggiero, Director of Masabi US Ltd. "MBTA will also see significant benefits in terms of reducing costly cash handling charges and the cost of additional ticket machines. We are delighted to be working with them to launch our first m-ticketing system in the U.S."

MBTA said customers will be invited to help designing the new applications through focus groups and a small group pilot later this summer.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is the fifth largest transit agency in the U.S., serving 1.3 million passengers each weekday on subways, light rail, buses, ferry boats and commuter rails in and around the Boston metropolitan area.

For more on this subject, visit the Trends/Statistics research center. 

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