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Smart Card for PATH But NJ Transit Says 'No Thanks'

December 30, 2001  The Associated Press

Commuters who use public transportation could be able to consolidate all their tokens, fare cards, and tickets with the region's first "smart" fare card.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is laying the groundwork for the system, which will start with the PATH train system linking Newark, Hoboken, and Jersey City with lower Manhattan. "It's a good step forward, and it's necessary, especially with so many people using the PATH system post-Sept. 11," Len Resto, president of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers, told the Asbury Park Press of Neptune for Saturday's editions.

The card will contain a computer chip to remember each transit system's fare structure and would charge a credit card or bank account. The system will coordinate 12 transit systems, including NJ Transit, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Long Island Rail Road, and Metro North, operating in and around New York City. Work on the PATH smart card system will begin at the end of 2002. The cards are expected to be in use one or two years after that. Resto said the change will make traveling easier for commuters who use several transit systems daily.

But NJ Transit, suffering from a financial crunch, is cautious of the project. The agency said this month that it needed to raise fares to help chip away at a projected $3.1 billion deficit over the next five years.

"In light of our tight financial situation, we have to be mindful of which investment produces the biggest bang for the buck," said NJ Transit Executive Director Jeffrey Warsh. Warsh said it could cost hundreds of millions of dollars to implement the system. NJ Transit has 280 million possible fare combinations for a smart card to remember, he said. However, Warsh said NJ Transit does support a pilot program for the smart cards.

From the Railroad.net forum; posted by Tony (railtrailbiker@yahoo.com) on Sun, Dec 30, 01 at 10:01

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