NJ Transit appears to be embracing modern technology to scan passenger tickets. As part of a pilot program that launches this week, select train crews will use handheld mobile devices to scan and validate tickets.
“As part of our effort to restore NJ Transit a national leader, we are utilizing the latest technology to improve our processes and ultimately improve the customer experience,” NJ Transit Director Kevin Corbett said in a written statement about the new program. “Not only will these handheld devices scan and validate tickets, they’ll also have the capability of giving crews real time information to enhance customer communication.”
As part of the pilot program, a small number of train crews across multiple rail lines will begin using the handheld mobile devices this week. Crew members will use the devices to scan the barcodes on all paper and electronic tickets, including monthly passes. Once a ticket is scanned, a crew member will instantly be able to determine if the ticket is valid. One-way tickets will have barcodes cancelled electronically to ensure they are not used again. Currently, crews visually inspect all electronic tickets and paper passes and use manual punches to cancel paper tickets.
By scanning all ticket types, NJ Transit will be able to collect and analyze data including fare collection and ridership trends. Electronic scanning also combats the use of fake tickets, officials said.
In the future, the handheld devices will be able to provide real-time communication with conductors to enhance the flow of information, officials said. Electronic scanning will also make offline electronic ticketing possible in the future. Customers would no longer need to have internet access to activate electronic tickets, officials said.
Feedback will be collected on the pilot program and it will be tweaked before initiating a gradual systemwide rollout of the mobile ticket scanners, officials said.