Taking the first step toward a regionwide transit fare payment system, the Port Authority today announced that customers will be able to use smart cards to pay their PATH fare in June 2005.
Smart cards – plastic cards the size of a credit card that contain a microchip – are designed to be accepted eventually on subway, bus and rail lines throughout the region.
New York Governor George E. Pataki said, “Smart cards will allow us to better integrate all of the mass transit services in the region, which will help to increase ridership. By encouraging more people to ride buses and trains, we will reduce traffic congestion, improve the region’s environment and boost the New York area’s economy and quality of life.”
New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey said, “The new fare payment system will revolutionize mass transit in the region and provide a more convenient way to travel. It will greatly improve the commute for thousands of New Jersey residents who rely on trains and buses to get to and from their jobs.”
Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, “Along with other Port Authority initiatives, the smart card will play a major role as we strive to improve regional mobility. Airport customers can now pay for parking using E-ZPass, and we are working to install a system that will allow E-ZPass users to travel through some bridge toll plazas at highway speeds. These new technologies will allow all of us to avoid the hassles of traveling to work, school or other destinations.”
Port Authority Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano said, “New Yorkers will get a benefit they have sought for years – the ability to pay fares for different transit systems with a single card. Smart cards are the next step in fare collection technology that will truly integrate transit properties throughout the region.”
Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour said the bistate agency will invest more than $70 million in the project.
“The existing PATH fare-collection equipment has reached the end of its useful life, giving us an opportunity to improve the system for the benefit of our customers,” Mr. Seymour said.
The Port Authority already has begun to install new PATH turnstiles that will eventually accept smart cards. When the turnstiles are installed at all PATH stations by the end of April 2005, they will accept PATH QuickCards and New York City Transit MetroCards. These new turnstiles will begin to accept smart cards beginning in June 2005. The existing turnstiles at the AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark stations also will be programmed to accept smart cards.
Transit customers will be able to link their smart card accounts to a credit card or replenish their account by check or money order. Customers also will be able to add money to their smart card by cash, credit or debit cards using vending machines located in the PATH stations.
The Port Authority developed specifications for a regional smart card and turnstile readers that could be manufactured by anyone using the specifications.