Trolley extension could come with mobile pay

Posted at 6:10 AM, Oct 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-26 09:53:53-04

A San Diego company is revolutionizing the way people pay their way onto public transportation. 

Cubic's latest technology lets riders zip onto busses and trolleys using popular mobile pay services like Apple Pay. It's created ticketing systems around the world, from the London Tube to the San Diego Trolley. 

On Wednesday, New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority signed a nearly $540 million contract with Cubic to revamp its own system. 

"The same card that you use to buy your coffee at a retail store, at Starbucks, is what you will use to pay at the turnstiles," said Pradip Mistry, Cubic's VP of Customer Experience. 

The question, now, is whether San Diego's busses and trolleys can get the same technology. The answer is seemingly yes, but it will be years. 

Right now, passengers can pay cash to bus drivers, or buy reloadable Compass Cards to swipe at trolley stops. They can also use a mobile app called Compass Cloud that lets them prepay for one day or 30 day passes, and use them immediately. 

MTS says it will start looking for a company to revitalize its ticketing system with some of those similar technologies in the next month. The goal is to have it ready by 2021, when the trolley starts its expanded service to UC San Diego. 

A North County Transit District spokeswoman says that it would join MTS in the search for a new ticketing provider.