One Card to Fit All: Commuters Get Ready to Tap for a Better Ride

Whenever I have to commute from Connecticut to New York City, I take multiple modes of transportation – a commuter train, the subway, depending on the day, maybe a taxi or two. What drives me crazy – and I don’t think I’m alone – is the fact I can’t pay for each method of transportation on the same card.

As part of the MasterCard PayPass team, we’re working to solve this challenge.  In New York, we’ve been working with the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and conducted two successful pilots to determine how commuters would react if they could pay with contactless technology like MasterCard PayPass. Last week, Fast Company’s Austin Carr reported on the results of the pilot conducted in 2010, showing that commuters ‘tapped’ approximately 74,000 times during the six months of the pilot.

The goal of the pilot was to show that the technology works and enables an easy method of transfer between multiple modes of transportation. With the trial’s success, the MTA announced that it will begin implementation of this technology across its entire system by 2015. This will allow consumers to ‘tap’ their PayPass-enabled credit, debit or prepaid cards – and mobile phones with contactless payment apps like Google Wallet – for their subway or bus rides around New York City.

And New York isn’t the only city working to make commutes easier.  The Chicago (CTA) and Philadelphia (SEPTA) transit systems are working to implement similar Tap and Go payment systems while Transport for London (TfL) will allow this method on buses in the United Kingdom by this summer (and plan to rollout to their entire subway system). Cities in Canada, Australia, Poland, Turkey, Singapore and Korea are already allowing commuters to pay for their ride using PayPass enabled cards.

This momentum is pushing us into a future where we’ll no longer need a separate fare card to use public transportation.  Imagine the day when all you’ll need is the same card you tap for everyday purchases and you’re on your way!

What do you think? Would the “one card fits all” approach make your commute and life a little easier?