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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Paying BART with a Cell Phone? Translink DOES THE JOB

Fresh from the stupid files...

After reading an "Eye on Blogs" posting, I learned that BART is planning to allow certain cell phones to be allowed to open faregates on the the system. Also during a segment on today's "Mornings on Two" program, Ross McGowan was speaking to the head public relations man of BART about future train cars, and McGowan mentioned about cell phones acting as fare cards.

And I had to think to myself... RFID technology... don't we already have a planned solution coming soon for BART that will eliminate the use of the magnetic stripe tickets?


Oh my gosh, you wonder why BART is planning to raise fares and their deficit is so large. They can't realize that Translink on BART is coming within the next month, and in this PR statement from BART (yes, I said, FROM BART), they clearly admit the universal farecard will be coming very soon. Getting cell phone companies to play along with this costs plenty of money.

So why are they deciding to get cell phones to access BART faregates only? What is the purpose of that when a plastic RFID farecard will be able to not just access BART, but also Muni, AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit, and coming soon... Caltrain. And think about it, only select cell phones and select wireless phone companies will agree to participate in this program, but Translink is just a plastic card that anyone could carry in their wallet or purse.

I even questioned BART on one of my old postings about why this transit agency keeps pushing their EZ Rider card when Translink is just right over the horizon. I keep saying this over and over... BART needs to think smarter when it comes to spending money. Having cell phones and their own RFID card is a waste of their own time because Translink can do the same job of passengers accessing the system and many other transit agencies.

Look at Hong Kong, their Octopus Card is extremely successful. They use the same exact operating equipment and technology from Motorola ERG on Translink. The Octopus Card allows access to literally all public transit, pays for food and restaurants and convenience stores, and is even used to keep attendance at public schools. In Japan, RFID transit fare cards can even access vending machines. Some unique products RFID cards have made for the public includes a mini sized card that is perfect for keychains, a watch with the RFID chip, and special wallets and purses with a special sleeve to make easy contact with cardreaders.

Maybe in the future, Translink will make a special sticker chip that people can put underneath their cell phone battery cover so that your phone can now access all public transit. Take that BART, with your cell phones that can only access your own agency's gates.


annie said...

I like this idea...the cell phone that is. I don't always carry the same purse/wallet, and this causes me to forget my passes at times (Muni & EZ Rider...which is a godsend as I was losing a lot on demagnetized BART tickets). I rarely ever walk out of the house without my phone.

If translink puts a little chip on my phone, great. Otherwise, I'll take the cell phone option any day.

Alex said...

I think the cell phone idea is great too, but I think it should be TransLink that is coordinating it. It's disappointing to see how far TransLink is lagging behind in terms of both implementation and innovative technology.

It's doesn't seem too hard to imbed a RFID chip into any kind of object. Octopus in Hong Kong already has watches and select mobile phones that have all the functions of a transit card. They are miles ahead of us.

PDXtoSF said...

Hey, speaking of BART, check out this press release I just found on MTC's website.


Even though BART's inviting their EZ Riders to be part of the soft launch, it then says all TransLink card holders can use it on BART once the soft launch begins.


Akit said...

Wow, that does sound sweet. Thanks for the update!