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MBTA updating system so riders can pay with tap of phone or credit card

MBTA rolling out new payment system
MBTA rolling out new payment system 02:19

BOSTON - The MBTA says it hopes to begin rolling out a new contactless payment system this summer that allows bus and subway passengers in Boston to just tap their phone or credit card to pay for rides.

The system is already being used in New York City, London, and Chicago. The MBTA hinted that it was developing the contactless system to WBZ-TV back in November.

Columbus Circle Subway Station in New York City
A rider taps in with a phone at the 59th Street subway station on September 5, 2023 in New York City. Gary Hershorn / Getty Images

"It is going to be state of the art. It's something that our customers want and they'll be able to feel," MBTA acting Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Cook said in a statement.

What trains can I use it on?

Starting this summer, contactless payments can be used for the subway, buses, and any above-ground Green Line trains.

"It's definitely going to be more convenient," commuter Alex Younker said.

"That sounds great. Always looking for easier ways to get into the T," said commuter James Luo.    

The MBTA said it plans to allow contactless payment on Commuter Rail and ferries starting in 2026. It also outlined plans to introduce a new CharlieCard, upgraded fare machines, and a mobile app sometime next year.

"I think it's probably a little bit long overdue, I'm sure," commuter Eric Yeakel said. "But I think it's going to make it a lot easier for people." 

In a meeting Thursday, the MBTA said in all, the systemwide upgrade will cost at least $920 million.

"The thing I care about more is that they're able to be more frequent and more reliable," Younker said. "That would be a much bigger difference in my life than the contactless payment." 

How to activate it

All phone brands, including Android, Samsung, and iPhone, will be able to tap to pay.   

To set up the new Apple Pay feature for the MBTA trains, go to your iPhone's settings and click on "Wallet & Apple Pay." Then, there should be an option for "Transit Cards." From there, you can pick any card you have set up for Apple Pay. Now you can tap and hop on.

Similarly, for Samsung Pay, you must authorize a card in the Samsung Pay app. Simply turn on "Use transport card" and select a default card.

Google Pay allows you to pay as you would normally without authorizing a specific card.

For more information on what payments are accepted for the T, go to the MBTA's website.

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