Portending a single fare system for bikes and transit

At some point this summer — although when exactly we do not know — New York City will unveil its bike share program. With a payment structure that favors short rides and long-term memberships, the 10,000-bike system run by Alta will change the way many New Yorkers commute. As I explored a few weeks ago, it should, in fact, enhance the city’s transportation network.

Full integration though remains a challenge. Right now, the city’s transportation payment picture looks a bit muddled. The buses and subways run by the MTA take MetroCards while the East Side Ferries, seemingly far more popular than I and may others anticipated, take cash while the bike share system will be membership-based for many and pay-as-you-go for others. Without integrating payment systems, these modes remain more siloed than they need to be.

New York City Transit meanwhile is slowly moving toward a new fare payment system. By around 2015 or so, the MetroCard will be ushered out in favor of a contactless debit or credit card-based solution, and the MTA may be more amenable to cooperating with the city on a unified fare system.