Metro announced last week that they’re planning on implementing a new electronic payment methods that could start to be seen on Metrorail and Metrobuses as early as late 2014. The agency has awarded a $184 million contract to Accenture to design the new system.
The new operation will continue to allow people to use SmarTrip cards, while implementing the new payment options. They made it clear that paper cards are being phased out completely, but you'll soon be able to pay for your ride with things like a chip-enabled credit card, a federal government ID card, or a mobile phone equipped with an NFC chip.
“While Metro pioneered the tap and go system we currently use, by today’s standards that system is cumbersome and the technology is not sustainable,” said Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles. “The new technology will provide more flexibility for accounts, better reliability for riders, and real choices for customers to use bank-issued payment cards, credit cards, ID cards, or mobile phones to pay their Metro fares.”
With more options, expect more riders to consider Metro when planning a night out. Depending on the ease, ridership should increase as word spreads. A pilot program that will bring the new system to 10 Metrorail stations and 50 Metrobuses is expected to begin later this year.