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PATH Is Installing High-Tech Fare System


June 6, 2005


Special to Passenger Transport

The Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation is in the process of taking the first step toward the installation of an innovative fare collection system. This integrated regional transit fare payment system will accept PATH's new smart card, the SmartLinkSM card, along with MTA New York City Transit MetroCards and PATH's current fare ticket, the QuickCard.

PATH will institute the new fare system in three phases. In the first phase, PATH installed the new turnstiles in all but one of its 13 New York and New Jersey stations. The installation is complete at all of PATH's Manhattan stations--the four Sixth Avenue stations, including both ends of the 33rd Street Station, to 23rd Street, 14th Street, 9th Street, and Christopher Street--and the Journal Square, Grove Street, Exchange Place, and Pavonia/Newport stations in New Jersey.

The system's platforms in Newark Penn Station will be the last ones to have the turnstiles installed. PATH has already begun the preliminary work for the station, and installation of the turnstiles is expected to be finished by July.

PATH's new fare collection system will include Ticket Vending Machines that will, at first, sell a PATH single-ride ticket and the pay-per-ride full fare NYC Transit MetroCard, which can be used on PATH and New York City subways and buses. The next step will be the sale of the new PATH SmartLink card for all its riders, including seniors, when the system is fully installed.

The SmartLink card will allow customers to add money to the card to equal PATH QuickCard fare discounts. In a later phase, customers will be able to register their SmartLink card to avoid losing money if the card is lost or stolen.

Features of the SmartLink Card

PATH's new SmartLink card will offer an advanced level of features. Initially, customers will be able to use the new station vending machines to add cash for the normal costs of 11 trips, 20 trips, and 40 trips to their SmartLink card.

With full installation of the new fare system, customers will be able to purchase the SmartLink card online, check their card balances online or by phone, and both register their cards against loss or theft and arrange for Auto-Load, a service that will function much like EZ-Pass for commuters. The card's microchip will automatically arrange to refill the customer's card once the value on it drops to a preset level. In this way, the customer will never be without sufficient fare on the SmartLink card.

Senior SmartLink

In the late fall, PATH expects to issue over 5,000 Senior SmartLink cards to its current PATH Senior Fare Card holders. PATH sees the introduction of Senior SmartLink as a step toward greater convenience for riders.

Currently, to pay their $1 senior fare on PATH, seniors must have coins or a dollar bill to insert into PATH's Cash Accepting Machine. The new SmartLink card will make their travel on PATH much easier--no more fumbling with dollar bills. Seniors will be able to add money to the SmartLink card and plan for two, 10, or any number of trips they regularly take on PATH.

PATH and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey have been working with New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New Jersey Transit Corporation to prepare the way to make this smart card a regional fare ticket for the future.

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