October 19, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
The New Jersey Transit Corporation has announced that it will begin accepting Google Wallet for payments at select locations. Rather than have mass transit riders rely strictly on cash and credit cards, NJ Transit vending machines and ticket windows will add Wallet as a payment option.
NJ Transit will accept Google Wallet for ticket purchasing at New York Penn Station, Newark International Airport Rail Station, and bus routes 6, 43, 80, 81, 87, and 120. The 126 route will accept payments as well, but only some buses will be equipped to support the contactless tap and pay system.
As someone who visits the Garden State multiple times per year and gets frustrated with its ticketing system on trains, I’m happy to see the state finally take some steps toward easing the purchasing process. I would have preferred to see something more akin to Japan where users simply tap their phone and gain entrance, but the current system that NJ Transit uses still requires paper.
For Google, this will be a major promotional tool for encouraging NFC awareness. As we saw in Charles’ review of Google Wallet and the recent promotional video we covered, people are impressed when they see NFC. Impressed enough to shell out money for a new phone capable of supporting it? Not so much, but that may be influential when the eventual upgrade time comes. Pressing a phone against a receiver is more convenient than reaching for exact change.
“Transit has been a common element of every major successful NFC effort globally and is a critical component of Google Wallet’s success,” said Stephanie Tilenius, vice president of Commerce at Google. “Transit is the fastest way to accelerate adoption and reach usage density in major urban centers by habituating the behavior of tapping and paying with phones, and we’re excited to launch our transit effort here with NJ TRANSIT.”
Translation: the more people we expose to NFC through mass transit, the more likely we are to make them use NFC at the other stores that accept the payment. See a map of NFC-capable businesses in your area here.