Washington Metro has announced that it will begin testing a new electronic payment program after awarding Accenture the contract to replace the existing fare collection systems for Metrorail, Metro-operated parking facilities, Metrobus and MetroAccess services.
The $184 million contract will include a system for Metro customers that enables them to continue to use SmarTrip cards, while expanding fare payment to chip-enabled credit cards, federal government ID cards and mobile phones using near field communications (NFC).
The system will be built using the Accenture Fare Management Solution, based on commercially off-the- shelf software products. It will use an open architecture that supports a range of payment options and includes the flexibility for future evolution in payment technology.
This new technology will provide more flexibility for accounts, better reliability for riders and real choices for customers to use bank-issued payment cards, credit cards, ID cards, or mobile phones to pay their Metro fares, said Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles.
Later this year, Accenture will provide a pilot program to test the new system in 10 Metrorail stations, aboard 50 branded-route Metrobuses, and in two parking lots. Additionally, 2,000 Metro riders will be selected to participate in the pilot program to test the performance and reliability of the new system.
When fully deployed, customers will see approximately 1,000 fare gates including ADA fare gates, 450 fare vending machines, approximately 1,500 bus payment targets, approximately 160 new payment targets at parking exit lanes, and approximately 600 NEPP-compatible smart phones for MetroAccess operators.
The new system will not accept paper tickets and Metro will continue the gradual phasing out of paper fare media. Today, less than one in ten Metrorail riders pay for their trip with a paper farecard.