New Jersey residents who use public transportation to get to employment, educational and recreational destinations can now use state-of-the-art technology via smart phones to pay their way. The credit goes to New Jersey Transit, the state’s public transportation corporation, which partnered with Google’s payment system, Google Wallet, to offer riders a downloadable application for smart phones.
NJ Transit is the first public transportation agency to partner with Google Wallet. Officials at New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority are said to be considering testing the technology for the city’s subway and bus riders.
The deal with Google Wallet is good news for African-Americans, who not only own smart phones at a rate higher than Americans overall, but who also account for about a third of the nation’s public transportation ridership. Data from The Nielsen Company’s September report titled, “The State of the African-American Consumer,” indicates 44 percent of U.S. African-American adults owned smart phones in the first quarter of this year, 22 percent higher than the 36 percent among the overall population. And according to the American Public Transportation Association, African-Americans make up a 33 percent of transit riders. As of last year, 10.2 billion trips were taken on public transportation each weekday.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is making good use of bragging rights. “Our partnership with Google demonstrates that NJ Transit and the State are at the forefront of emerging technology, paving the way for further exploration of new customer service technologies,” he said. “I’m proud that New Jersey’s public transportation system is the very first public transportation agency to partner with Google Wallet, joining thousands of retailers accepting Wallet across the nation.”
Google Wallet is a downloadable app available for iphones, BlackBerries and other smart mobile devices. Its partnership with NJ Transit enables the system’s riders to use their mobile device as a mode of transmitting their payments. Since October, when the partnership went into effect, riders may simply tap the mobile device to a console and continue with their travel without breaking stride.
Currently Google Wallet can be used to purchase transportation tickets at New York Penn Station ticket vending machines and ticket windows, Newark Liberty International Airport Rail Station (AirTrain), on bus routes 6, 43, 80, 81, 87 and 120, and on some buses on the 126 line.
Users may “tap to pay” with either a bank-issued credit card or the Google Prepaid Card in the wallet, both of which support PayPass. NJ Transit customers would be tapping their phones for tickets, just as they could currently tap at any of the roughly 150,000 merchant locations that accept PayPass in the United States to make a purchase.
Google contends that “eventually your loyalty cards, gift cards, receipts, boarding passes, tickets, even your keys will be seamlessly synced to your Google Wallet,” eliminating the need to fumble around with various plastic cards in a leather encasing.