WASHINGTON — Washington Metro said it is seeking a business partner to help develop the next generation of electronic fare payment to create more options for customers, make using the transit system easier and encourage new ridership.
The Request for Proposals the agency issued is the first step in a process to identify a vendor to assist Metro in developing a fare system designed to process payments directly at the gate using technology like contactless, chip-enabled debit and credit cards, which banks are already distributing to customers; federal identification cards; or smart phones equipped with near-field communication capability; as well as existing SmarTrip cards, according to WMATA.
The current SmarTrip system will remain in operation until a new system is developed and Metro will solicit significant customer input into the design of the new system to ensure all customers are served, whether they are frequent or occasional riders.
“We want to make it even easier for our customers to use Metro,” said Metro Board Chairman Peter Benjamin. “While customers will still be able to use SmarTrip, they will have additional payment choices such as debit, credit or federal ID cards. Just as SmarTrip revolutionized how customers paid their fares a decade ago, we look for this new system to be equally dramatic in the eyes of our customers.”
The RFP contemplates new and rehabilitated gate hardware, and new fare payment targets onboard the bus fleet. Web-enabled services, SMS texting and mobile applications will be enhanced to provide additional information and convenience for customers traveling throughout the region in both peak and off-peak periods.