UPDATED: U.S. Federal Government Awards Grants to Help Transit Agencies Roll Out Contactless Payments and Mobile Ticketing

Feb 18 2021

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – U.S. public transit agencies have been keen to remove cash and paper tickets from their buses and trains and to keep more distance between customers and agency staffers because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now they are getting a new boost from the U.S. federal government in the form of grant funds to enable them to enhance contactless and mobile payments systems, among other measures.

The Federal Transit Administration’s Public Transportation COVID-19 Research Demonstration Grant Program is distributing just under $15.8 million in funds for agencies in 35 states to push measures promising “innovative transit solutions” that address challenges transit agencies are facing with the pandemic. Much of the money is being used to help agencies improve vehicle and facility cleaning and disinfection and to track vehicle crowdedness for riders. But one focus of the grants is to promote “innovative” technologies, such as contactless fare payments. And a calculation by NFC Times shows that 17 transit agencies are receiving more than $5.6 million under the grant program to be used in all or part to enable contactless and mobile ticketing. 

The agencies will use the money to pay for hardware and software to enhance their touch-free payments services, including installing new validators on board buses that can accept open-loop bank cards and NFC wallets, along with closed-loop cards and to scan digital tickets on smartphones. There is also money to develop mobile apps and to buy such equipment as voice-activated ticket vending machines. The U.S. Federal Transit Administration, or FTA, part of the Department of Transportation, recently released details on the grant awards. 

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