Press Release Article


Date: Dec 13, 2001
Press Release Number: 165-2001

“Smart Cards” and NYCTA MetroCards To Be Accepted at PATH Stations;
Like an “E-ZPass For Mass Transit”

Taking the first step toward the adoption of an integrated region-wide transit fare payment system, the Port Authority Board of Commissioners today approved a new fare collection system for the PATH rail transit system that accepts both “smart cards” and New York City Transit MetroCards. The project, which has an estimated cost of $51 million, was approved today by the Port Authority Board of Commissioners at their monthly meeting.

Working with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New Jersey Transit, the Port Authority will design the new system to allow the use of smart cards -- plastic cards, the size of a credit card, with an imbedded microchip. Using this technology, PATH riders, and eventually riders of other regional transit systems, will be able to deduct transit fare purchases against user accounts that can be linked to a credit card, as is done with E-ZPass accounts.

Riders who use both PATH and NYCTA subways and buses will also be able to use MetroCards in both systems, marking the first integration of MetroCards into other transit systems. The new smart card fare collection system, expected to be in place on PATH within two years, is designed to be accepted eventually on subway, bus and rail lines throughout the region. Further, working with the MTA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Port Authority is continuing to explore other interim options for integrating the New York City system with PATH.

New York Governor George E. Pataki said, “Thanks to this action today by the Port Authority, we have now begun to put in place what eventually can become a single fare collection system for all transit riders in the New York and New Jersey region using smart cards. In the future, the smart card approach can open the door to discounted combination tickets and other transit innovations. In so doing we will be able to encourage mass transit ridership, helping to reduce vehicular traffic, improving the environment and boosting the New York area’s economy and quality of life.”

Acting New Jersey Governor Donald DiFrancesco said, “The new PATH fare collection system will make life easier for some 80,000 regular PATH riders, offering them much greater convenience and a speedier commute. But, more than that, it’s the first stage in the creation of an integrated fare collection system that has the potential to revolutionize mass transit in the New Jersey and New York region.”

Port Authority Chairman Jack Sinagra said, “This exciting new project will help PATH users in the short term by offering them a range of payment options including either the use of a smart card or MetroCard. If they opt for the smart card, they will enjoy the same kinds of payment conveniences while using the PATH system that motorists enjoy with E-ZPass. And the roughly 20 percent of PATH customers who also use the New York City subways or buses will be able to buy MetroCards that can be used on both systems.

“In the long term, the potential benefits are even better: smart cards can be linked to other regional transit rail and bus systems making possible new conveniences and combination tickets. The smart card could, in the future, also handle other types of payments, including parking fees, highway tolls, and even non-transportation uses such as pay telephones, retail purchases and e-commerce.”

Acting Executive Director Ronald Shiftan said, “The old PATH fare collection system is reaching the end of its useful life. Rather than simply replace it in kind, this represents an opportunity to give PATH riders the benefits of state-of-the-art technology, already successfully used in transit systems in Washington, D.C.; Hong Kong, and Chicago. If they opt for a smart card, PATH customers may never again need to slow down their morning commute to purchase a QuickCard or to pay with cash. The smart card also allows riders to speed through turnstiles without even removing the card from their wallets.”

Gregory Burnham, Chief Technology Officer for the Port Authority, said, “The new turnstiles will contain readers for both smart cards and NYCTA MetroCards. The smart card reader scans the information contained in cards as they are passed over the reader. Users of the smart card will have the convenience of linking their accounts to a credit card or bank account, or sending payment by check or money order. Payment options will be similar to those offered under the E-ZPass program.”

Specifications for the project were developed with the assistance of the NYCTA, New Jersey Transit, and Volpe Transportation Research Center of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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