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    Lower Manhattan now offers PATH to a smarter commute   

Wednesday, July 04, 2007 BY RON MARSICO Star-Ledger Staff
PATH Trains Hudson & Manhattan RR Hudson Tubes For PATH train riders who like the most up-to-date technology, there's no more need to insert a QuickCard or MetroCard into turnstiles: SmartLink cards are finally available for sale.

Approximately 50 cards were sold today by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey at the World Trade Center station on the first day of sales for the plastic cards with an electronic chip, which riders will be able to wave past a turnstile sensor. The cards even work from inside handbags, wallets and pockets -- provided there is no metal to interfere with the scan. There is a one-time $5 cost for SmartLink cards, which will continue to offer discounts similar to those available by using the Quick Card, said Marc La Vorgna, a Port Authority spokesman.

Currently, SmartLink cards are only available at the World Trade Center station during limited hours, but they will eventually be sold at other stations. Originally, the cards were supposed to go on sale last summer, but the $73 million program encountered delays. "It is part an evolutionary process with the goal of creating a contact-less regional card that can be used on all three major transit systems," La Vorgna said.

The spokesman said the agency is already looking at the future, which would be "a seamless regional card" that would work on NJ Transit, PATH and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates New York City subways, buses and commuter lines to Long Island, Westchester and Connecticut.

La Vorgna said the Port Authority has sought proposals from vendors for all-purpose bank card that could be used on transit systems. La Vorgna said QuickCards will continue for the time-being. "It will be gradually phased out," he explained. MetroCards, used by 40 percent of PATH riders, also will be continue to be accepted.

PATH has approximately 230,000 passenger trips daily on its lines, which run from Newark, Harrison, Jersey City and Hoboken into Manhattan. © 2007 The Star Ledger © 2007 All Rights Reserved. ©  

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