Smartphone Ticketing Coming to Massachusetts Rail

Posted by at 3:45 am on April 24, 2012

Riders in Boston and surrounding areas will soon be able to both purchase and display rail tickets on their smartphones, thanks to a system being put into place this fall by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). The service is modeled on a similar system used in the UK by London-based Masabi, and uses QR codes displayed on smartphone screens and readers used by conductors to replace paper tickets, which can be easily lost.

The partnership will signal the first US smartphone rail ticketing system and should make it easier for commuters who are never without their mobile devices to produce proof of payment as well as purchase tickets in advance, bypassing the vending machines or automated ATM-like ticket kiosks found in most stations. The proposed apps will work on iOS, Android and Blackberry devices and will have animated watermarks and changing background colors to foil any fraud attempts.

GigaOm reports that the system will be tested during the summer with a pilot group before the full launch. The system can work in conjunction with the existing monthly “CharlieCard,” a monthly pass used by MBTA riders that can be refilled using smartphone payment systems. MBTA says the move to smartphones will save the company having to invest in card-reading hardware, as 60 percent of its riders already own smartphones.

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