Trains, buses and skis – Salt Lake City ushers in contactless technology

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA in January 2009.

Image via Wikipedia

The 2002 Winter Olympics venue of Salt Lake City in the US has hit the headlines over the past few decades for activities both on and off piste. So it’s no surprise that contactless technology is making its mark both in the city and the surrounding ski resorts.

Back in 2006, the city held a pilot of the technology on buses in Salt Lake City ski areas. The pilot saw 41 buses serving Salt Lake City area ski resorts fitted with a system that enabled customers to use contactless cards for both transit payment and ski resort access.

Following the success of the pilot, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) rolled out a full contactless transit payment system on buses and trains across the city’s metro area, making it one of the first transit authorities to accept open-loop payment cards. The system supports transit smart cards, local university passes, ski resort passes and Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover contactless credit cards.

US Bank has backed some of the city’s contactless payment innovations. It started issuing Visa payWave-enabled cards to its customers in 2008, and a year later trialled instant issue, unembossed personalization and contactless payment in one card in Salt Lake City and Denver. These cities were chosen because they already had a track record with contactless payment.

Discover Financial Services has also tested contactless payments in the city. In 2009, it trialled them with employees at its Chicago headquarters as well as in Salt Lake City as a precursor to a bigger rollout across the US at the end of 2010. During the trial participants could fix a mobile sticker to their handsets or other devices and tap to pay wherever Zip is accepted in the US.

Contactless momentum continues to build in the city. Later this year, AT&T and Verizon Wireless are expected to start trialling a contactless payment system based on smartphones in a number of US locations, including Salt Lake City. According to industry reports, other firms involved in the trial may include Discover, Barclays and T-Mobile USA .

The technology is also being embraced by the public sector, with the US Department of Defense (DOD) planning to use its Common Access Card (CAC) for public transportation and testing the application with around 100 users on Salt Lake City’s open-loop transit system.

Click here for the league score table on Salt Lake City


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