As a long-time user of EZ Rider, a contactless payment method used on my local transit carrier (BART), I was pleased to see an even better alternative: paying for my tickets with my mobile phone. Instead of swiping the EZ Rider card, the service allows you to swipe your mobile phone over the sensors to open the fare gates.
The card/phone is replenished periodically with automatic withdrawals from my bank account. The trial is being conducted in the San Francisco Bay Area for Sprint and Boost Mobile customers and will be using a specially equipped phone for the duration of the trial.
My experience so far with the EZ Rider card has been flawless. It sits neatly in my wallet along with my other credit cards, and because it’s contactless, I place my wallet over the sensors without ever taking the card out. It works on the first try about 90% of the time (usually because I’m rushing passed it too fast), and a 100% the second time around.
I’ve come to rely on it so much that I can’t imagine having to buy another ticket again — force feeding the ticket into the fare gate now seems almost like a bad magic act. The phone is a nice alternative, and it’s good to see public transit trying new ways to make it easier to ride. Granted, some of this technology is not new (Japan and South Korea lead the way here on large scale implementations), nonetheless it’s a payment trend that could take hold even here in the states.