MST announces new partnership with Caltrans, Visa

July 15, 2020
The new partnership introduces a contactless fare payment demonstration.

Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) has partnered with Caltrans and Visa to implement contactless fare payment technology in public transit buses to allow riders to use a contactless credit, debit, prepaid card or contactless-enabled mobile device to pay their fare on any MST bus line.

MST says it is the first transit agency in California to introduce a contactless payment solution on its system as part of the California Integrated Travel Project, an initiative to facilitate easy and accessible travel planning and payments.

Beginning in mid-September, MST riders can get around the Monterey-Salinas area by tapping a Visa contactless card or digital wallet to ride MST buses, removing the need to stand in line to purchase or load a separate transit card or handle cash while boarding. Whether a local or visitor to the Monterey area, the rider experience is the same. Cybersource, a Visa solution, is supporting the project’s enablement by providing the integral connection points between MST and other partners, making it quicker and easier to implement and launch.

“Creating an easy-to-use, standardized payment method across different transit agencies is an important element of the California Integrated Travel Project’s goal of increasing transit ridership, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting equity throughout our state’s vast transportation network,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin.

Caltrans’ California Integrated Travel Project highlights the need for transit customers across the state to access a suite of common tools to seamlessly plan and pay for their transit trip, and receive any special discounts for which they may be eligible due to age, disability income, or veteran status. Caltrans says it selected MST to assess the feasibility of seamless contactless payments for transit in a “real-life” environment for six months. MST says this technology demonstration sets the stage for passengers traveling from one area to another to possess the ability to pay for a trip with their contactless credit, debit or prepaid card or mobile device as they board the local transit system of their choice.

“Contactless payments have shaped the way consumers pay all over the world, saving valuable time and delivering a safe and secure way to pay. We are excited to be working with Monterey-Salinas Transit and Caltrans to not only improve the daily journeys of MST riders with a safe and convenient way to get around, but also showcase the benefits of open, contactless payments for transit customers and operators across California,” said Josh Martiesian, senior director of transit, North America, Visa.

The demonstration between MST, Caltrans and Visa beginning in September will focus on establishing an improved rider experience for MST customers that can scale to create consistency across hundreds of transit agencies throughout California. Through results collected from the MST Rider Survey conducted during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, MST learned that customers would prefer a contactless fare payment option over using cash. In line with this trend, MST will join a growing number of cities that offer open, contactless fare payments in transit.

“As we begin the recovery of the region, MST is driven to protect, serve and innovate as we continue providing safe, convenient and affordable mobility solutions. This pilot will protect our passengers and drivers by enabling credit and debit card holders to tap to pay for their ride quickly rather than spending time at the farebox with loose change. In a recent survey of our riders, 81 percent said they felt that MST’s COVID-19 cleanliness protocols are excellent or good, and 68 percent said they had heard about contactless credit and debit cards, so we think the time is right to launch this partnership with Caltrans and Visa,” said Carl Sedoryk, MST’s general manager/CEO.

The contactless readers will be installed on buses in early September, and passengers can start taking advantage of this payment option shortly thereafter. During the ensuing six months, MST says it will evaluate the performance of the fare payment option to determine whether it makes sense for MST and the community it serves.