LIRR first in onboard credit card tickets

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All aboard the train to the future. The Long Island Rail Road took its brand-new hand-held “Ticket Issuing Machines” for a test ride on select trains yesterday.

Conductors on trains running between Ronkonkoma and Greenport sported an Apple iPhone 4 equipped with a PaySaber “cradle device” that processes both cash and credit card sales, and prints out tickets onboard.

The LIRR is the first transit system in the metro area to accept credit cards for onboard purchases. Metro-North and NJ Transit only accept cash, and Amtrak does not allow onboard ticket purchases.

But convenience comes with a price: LIRR customers who opt to buy tickets onboard will still be required to pay the extra fee of up to $6.50 per ticket. Only two percent of all LIRR?tickets are bought onboard trains, according to a railroad spokesman.

LIRR President Helena Williams cited young LIRR riders’ predilection for plastic as the cause for the system update.

“Our younger customers in particular often don’t carry cash,” said Williams.

Starting Aug. 26, the smartphones will also be used on select trains on the Penn Station to Montauk line. The pilot project will run through Oct. 9.

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.


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