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Massachusetts Rail (MBTA) Rolls Out New iPhone-Based Ticketing

Massachusetts Rail (MBTA) Rolls Out New iPhone-Based Ticketing

We’re slowly seeing the paper ticket disappear, with the smartphone taking its place. Train tickets are a good example. After Amtrak,  the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is beginning to roll out smartphone ticketing, albeit in a limited capacity, The Verge reports.

The MBTA mTicket app, available from the App Store, allows users to buy tickets directly on their phone and store them in their ticket wallet. It should be noted that there is no mention of Passbook whatsoever, presumably because it has nothing to do with it.


Beginning today, customers on four MBTA Commuter Rail Lines, north and west of Boston, will be able to use their smartphones instead of paper tickets to ride the train. Under this first-in the nation mobile ticketing program, customers will be able to purchase tickets and passes using the MBTA mTicket app for iPhone and Android devices wherever they are. The tickets are displayed on the phone’s screen as a digital ‘flash pass’ or encrypted barcode. The system uses the JustRide mobile ticketing platform from Masabi US Ltd.

While this is just a pilot for now and only applies to certain commutes, it will be a two phase process:

In the first phase of the pilot, MBTA commuter rail riders riding on the Lowell, Fitchburg, Haverhill, and Newbury/Rockport lines can purchase and use single or ten-ride tickets via their smartphone. The second phase of the pilot will expand the app to customers using the Commuter Boat and Worcester, Franklin, Fairmount, Providence, Greenbush, and Old Colony Commuter Rail Lines. Under the second phase of the pilot, which begins later this month, riders will also be able to purchase and use monthly passes via their smartphones.

Josh Robin, head of innovation at MBTA, confirmed to the The Verge that if it’s successful and customers like it, then it will be rolled out to other areas.

It’s amazing to see how quickly companies are changing system, and I reckon in 10 years time we could have a completely paper ticketless world.