New Jersey’s public transit system, the 3rd largest in the U.S., has just announced that they’ve given Google a big bear hug and will soon start supporting Google Wallet. According to the press release, customers will be able to buy tickets from “New York Penn Station ticket vending machines and ticket windows, Newark Liberty International Airport Rail Station (AirTrain), on bus route nos. 6, 43, 80, 81, 87, and 120, and on some buses on the 126 line.” This is the first deal Google has signed with a state’s public transportation agency, and we’re sure there will be more to come. When Isis, the Google Wallet competitor setup by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, launches next year, they’ll integrate with Utah’s Transit Authority, which we can’t imagine being very large since owning a car is crucial in that part of the country. But back to New Jersey, Stephanie Tilenius, Vice President of Commerce at Google, says:
“Transit has been a common element of every major successful NFC effort globally and is a critical component of Google Wallet’s success. 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.”
Of course getting people used to paying by tapping their phones is going to become habitual, but first people need phones that are capable of doing that! Right now the one and only handset that supports Google Wallet is the Samsung Galaxy S 4G on Sprint. To put more salt in the wound, unless you’ve got an account with Citibank, you’re going to be forced to top up a virtual credit card all the time just to be able to tap and pay.
Time will fix all of these issues, but patience is not a virtue for those of us who live in the world of the always accelerating technology cycle.
Update: We’ve just received this email from Gerry Carpenter, Senior Media Relations Specialist for the Utah Transit Authority:
I saw your article on NJ Transit adding Google Wallet to their system with a mention of Utah Transit Authority. I thought you may be interested to learn that UTA is actually a fairly large system. Though nowhere nearly as large as NJ Transit, we are ranked 32 nationally in terms of passenger miles.
In addition to working with the ISIS group, UTA has also met with a Google Wallet representative and our entire transit system is already fully compatible with the Google Wallet product. UTA was the first transit system in the nation to fully implement a NFC-compatible electronic fare system (launched in January 2009). Our system accepts contactless payments on more than 500 buses and at 41 light rail and commuter rail stations.
I would be happy to answer any questions if you would like more information.
UTA Media Relations