The movement away from paying New York City transit fares with standard Metrocards is gaining steam. Visa has joined MasterCard in a trial project to streamline payments for public transit riders using smartphone payment system Visa payWave, according to a Visa release.

“Transit agencies the world over have one primary goal — to get their customers to where they need to go quickly and efficiently. What transit agencies and riders recognize is that using Visa on buses, subways and trains is the logical evolution in terms of improved speed, security and convenience,” said Jim McCarthy, Visa’s global head of product. “For commuters, paying with Visa means no more fumbling for change or worrying about lost transit cards. For transit authorities, accepting Visa means better customer service, integrated collections and the potential for increased ridership.”

Tap and Go Technology

Using the Visa payWave system, riders can equip their smart phones with the ability to pay by swiping them past a small portal. The payWave technology works with smart phones by attaching to their microSD slots. From there, customers taking part in the pilot can use the cards to pay for items at retailers just like they would with their credit or debit cards.

On the New York City subway system, payWave users can wave their equipped phones in front of the payWave portal near the subway turnstiles instead of swiping their Metrocard. Users will be charged standard fare when they swipe. More than 10,000 New York City cabs already have the technology installed, allowing riders to swipe their phone and avoid reaching for cash or cards. Here’s the breakdown of New York-area transit payWave locations:

  • 28 of the city’s Lexington Avenue subway stops will have payWave portals at their turnstiles.
  • Most PATH railway stations, several MTA bus lines and some New Jersey Transit bus lines will have the technology, along with the Newark Airport Airtrain.
  • Many New York City cabs have the technology in their back seats.

L.A. Gets TapCards

While New York remains the center of the mobile payment world, Los Angeles is getting a little taste of convenient transit payments. The LA Metro public transportation system is now compatible with Visa prepaid transit cards that can be used at ATMs to take out cash. The Visa cards can be reloaded for multiple uses.

“Combining LA Metro’s TAP with a ReadyCredit Visa prepaid card gives riders secure and convenient access to Metro’s transit services and the ability to make payments at Visa-accepting merchants,” said Jane Matsumoto, LA Metro’s deputy executive officer regional TAP program and Services.”This program also delivers enhanced financial services for underbanked TAP riders, enabling them to conveniently and securely access funds, as well as conduct everyday transactions like reserving a hotel room, paying bills online and shopping on the Internet — which can’t be done with cash.”

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