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  • Writer's pictureDylan Kelly

No CharlieCard Needed: MBTA Introducing New Contactless Fare System This Summer!

This summer, a new fare collection system will be introduced, enabling subway and bus passengers to pay by tapping a contactless credit card or mobile wallet on a smartphone, such as Apple Pay, instead of using traditional CharlieCards and paper tickets.

The implementation of contactless payment, a feature already available in other major transit systems like New York City's subway, marks a significant milestone in the delayed and over-budget project to modernize fare collection at the MBTA. On Thursday, MBTA board members unanimously approved a contract amendment with transportation technology firm Cubic and financier John Laing to "resequence" the rollout, allowing for an earlier start while extending the project's final completion date.

With this change, the new payment option will be available on subways, buses, and above-ground Green Line trolleys starting this summer. Passengers will be able to pay their fares using a traditional pass, a tap-enabled credit card, a mobile wallet such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, or a similarly enabled smart watch

Additionally, the system will introduce a new reduced-price fare option for low-income riders, a highly anticipated program also set to begin this summer.

By spring 2025, the MBTA plans to launch a new CharlieCard system, a mobile app, and upgraded fare vending machines. A year later, by spring 2026, contactless payment will expand to commuter rail trains with validators at stations and to ferries, where staff will use handheld scanners, according to MBTA officials.

The Mattapan Line will not receive the new functionality until several months after the rest of the core rapid-transit system. Winters Ronaldson explained that a "power availability issue" prevents the operation of fare readers on those trolleys. Instead, validators will be installed at Mattapan Line stations, allowing riders to tap a credit card or mobile device. This work is scheduled to begin in the fall.

Traditional payment methods will remain available once the contactless payment system is operational.


PC: - Unsplash


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