Metro to Pilot Pay-by-Phone, -Credit Card Fare System

Metro plans to overhaul its current trip payment system with new technologies.

Metrorail station. Courtesy of WMATA.
Metrorail station. Courtesy of WMATA.
 By Laura L Thornton

Ever thought you'd see the day when you could pay for your Metro ride with a phone?

That day might not be too far off. Metro announced Wednesday that it will pilot a program later this year to test a new system of payment for riding on Metrorail and on Metrobuses, Metro reported on its website.

Metro recently awarded the company Accenture (NYSE: ACN) a contract to replace the existing fare collection systems for Metrorail, Metro-operated parking facilities, Metrobus and MetroAccess services with an electronic fare payment system, Metro reported.

"The new system will be designed to provide a state-of-the-art system for Metro customers that enables them to continue to use SmarTrip cards, while expanding fare payment to chip-enabled credit cards, federal government ID cards and mobile phones using 'near field' communications," Metro explained on its website.

Accenture's pilot program later this year will test the new system in 10 Metrorail stations, on 50 Metrobuses and in two parking lots. Also, 2,000 Metro riders will be selected to participate in the pilot program to test the performance and reliability of the new system, Metro reported.

Accenture has successfully implemented similar transportation payment systems in Canada and the Netherlands, Metro added.

"We are pleased to be working with an experienced company to bring our customers the same level of technology that we've all seen in the airlines and banking industries for payments," Metro Deputy General Manager of Administration and Chief Financial Officer Carol Kissal said.

"Over the next several years, customers will see new stainless steel faregates with clamshell-like barriers and large, bright, intuitive displays to ease their entries and exits. We believe this new system will enhance the Metro experience for commuters and visitors alike," Kissal added.

The new system will not accept paper tickets and Metro will continue the gradual phasing out of paper fare cards. Currently, fewer than one in ten Metrorail riders pay for a trip with a paper farecard, Metro reported.

Read more about the planned payment system on Metro's website.

Read about Metro's proposed fare hikes on Patch.


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