Google Wallet users can now use the service to pay their fares on New Jersey Transit. The state’s public transportation system has become the first public transit system in the U.S. to partner with Google Wallet. For now, service is limited to customers with Citi MasterCards or Google Prepaid Cards on Nexus 4GS Sprint phones.
Last year New Jersey Transit passed along a $300 million budget deficit to its customers by hiking fairs 25 percent. While the agency hopes technology like Google Wallet can help reduce costs, it doesn’t solve NJT’s antiquated method of processing tickets. Tapping your phone gives you the same cardboard pass that conductors take so they can punch a different card and stick it in the seat in front of you — just like they did 60 years ago. (Ever see Polar Express?)
Developers: A true leap forward would be an app that’s scanned as a commuter boards the train. It would be re-upped as needed, bypassing point of sale purchasing so customers never need to stand in line again. Will customers use it? Ask anyone who lines up to buy tickets during the first third of the month. The app would also reduce trash, and go a long way toward reducing the costs of ticket sellers and ticket punchers.
Just a thought.