Open Payment System

A visitor or new resident to Boston can find their first experience with the transportation system to be confusing especially when trying to decide what payment card is required to ride which part of the transportation system, where the card is obtained, what fare options are available, and how the card is used. An Open Payment system for transportation allows travelers to simply use their mobile phone or contactless credit or debit card to board a vehicle, while the payment system computes the best value fare for all trips.  This kind of system currently exists in London, Chicago and Salt Lake City and is in-progress in Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and New York.  These systems also cover a greater number of transit services so your phone or contactless credit or credit card could potentially be used to board the MBTA, regional transportation authorities (RTAs), private buses, EZ pass, bike shares, and other means of urban mobility.  An Open Payment system in Boston could  make a big difference in making the City more livable. ABC led a project in 2014 and 2015 looking at the benefits, costs, and a possible implementation plan for an Open Payment system for transportation in Massachusetts.  Such a system can increase ridership and revenues, increase cost efficiency, reduce barriers to the use of non-drive-alone options, and support innovative fare and transportation demand management policies.  It can also improve equity for lower income residents by allowing access to lower fares and better payment methods, create environmental benefits such as reduced emissions levels, and improve mobility and access for employees and commerce in the region. Working closely with the MBTA and MassDOT, ABC is awaiting final approval to start Phase 2 of this project which will develop the requirements and high-level design for an Open Payment system across transit and highway transportation services in Massachusetts.  This phase will delve into the initial planning, budgeting, and systems engineering activities that will define what the system will do, how it will operate, and the expected business and economic case for implementation. Once approved, Phase 2 will take approximately six months resulting in the requirements and design specificity to allow system integrators to bid on the system.

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