New products, Travel

Wave for a ride on NY-NJ public transit

Jeremy Simon

If paying for public transportation only required a wave of your credit card, how much time could be saved?

Early next year, commuters in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area will find out. That’s when MasterCard and NJ Transit expect to start an eight-month test that allows riders to pay their fares on PATH trains (which connect Manhattan and neighboring New Jersey) and two NJ Transit bus lines with contactless bank cards, key fobs, cell phones and other devices. Before the 2009 trial can begin, MasterCard needs to first develop, install and test the system.

At first only MasterCard payments will be accepted. “Contactless payment will be available exclusively to MasterCard PayPass customers during the initial two months of the test and to other bank-issued contactless card customers for the balance of the test period,” according to a Port Authority press release.

The outcome of this trial could have a big impact on how New York City commuters are able to pay fares on all area transit systems. A favorable result may mean that New York subways and buses begin to accept contactless payments. (Contactless card readers were already installed in 30 stations on the Lexington Avenue subway line in July 2006 for a Metropolitan Transportation Authority trial involving Citi cardholders that ran through the end of last year.)

“Our vision is to increase mass transit capacity, improve reliability and simplify fare payment to attract even more people to mass transit,” says Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia, as quoted in the press release. The goal of simplifying commutes is echoed by Port Authority Executive Director Anthony E. Shorris. “The region’s diverse workforce relies on our extensive mass transit network to commute and we need to find a way to take a bit of the hassle out of trips that often span two or three separate systems,” he says.

Seconds count when riders are rushing between buses or subways.

This news leaves me wondering: Could the wave eventually replace the swipe altogether on New York City public transportation, with the MetroCard meeting the same fate as the now-defunct subway token?

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, we ask that you do not disclose confidential or personal information such as your bank account numbers, social security numbers, etc. Keep in mind that anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The editorial content on is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.

  • Eitan

    This will certainly help the countless people who have trouble following the simple instructions that go along with paying with a credit card.

  • It will be interesting to find out how often riders make use of the option for contactless payments, since most people do not yet have contactless cards or devices. In another article on our site, an expert commented that it would probably be about 10 years before the majority of credit card transactions are contactless.

  • Eitan

    The reader is around waist-level, where most people keep their wallets, so i wonder if the reader might accidentally charge your cc as you go through the turnstyle, even if you swipe your metrocard.