Contactless payment for public transport in Philadelphia

Riding on any Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) vehicle soon won’t require passes, fare-cards, tokens or cash. As part of a $122.2 million contract with ACS, A Xerox Company, passengers will instead be able to digitally pay their fare with a quick tap or wave of their “contactless” credit or debit card or even their smartphone. SEPTA will be one of the first in the country to offer riders the ability to travel and pay this way.

Passengers riding any of the buses, subways, trolleys or the regional rail trains on the SEPTA system will be able to use this modernized open payment fare collection system. During the three-year implementation, ACS will design, install, integrate and operate one of the country’s most sophisticated transit payment technology systems. The contract also includes two five-year options for continued operations. “This next generation payment system will offer an extraordinary level of convenience, speed and accuracy for customers,” said SEPTA general manager Joseph M. Casey.

The new system will allow passengers to pay their fares using a card many already have in their wallets. It will be more secure due to strict banking industry standards, and more convenient and simpler than fare payment options available elsewhere. It also will allow for seamless travel throughout the entire SEPTA network and provide the capability for future integration with other transit authorities in the region.

For the first time ever, the New Payment Technology will provide SEPTA with precise, real-time business intelligence on all services with the ability to better manage resources, modify services and respond to customer needs. “This new system will allow commuters to spend more time where they want to be and less time getting there or waiting in line,” said Dave Amoriell, chief operating officer, Transportation and Local Government Solutions, ACS.

Working with New Jersey Transit, The Metropolitan Transit Authority (NY) and The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, ACS, was the first to demonstrate that complex, regional fare collection systems can accept regular contactless credit and debit cards. Rider satisfaction surveys showed the majority of riders liked the new payment technology and most preferred it over the current cash, coin, and ticket-based transit payment system.

The ACS team consists of local partners including PRWT, which will provide customer care support; Parsons Transportation Group, which will provide design, engineering and construction support services; and Temple University, which is conducting software development.

ACS systems and services are used by more than 1,000 municipal, regional and national operators in 400 cities worldwide to run more than 150,000 pieces of equipment that enables 50 million passengers per day to use buses, trolleys, tramways and trains. ACS-deployed solutions include more than 50,000 smart card readers on buses, faregates, turnstiles, and other fare collection devices. ACS is the largest provider of transportation services to governments worldwide, with projects in 35 countries.

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