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Coming Soon to a New Jersey Path Train Station Near You

Starting this summer in New Jersey, commuters will simply wave their new SmartLink card over a reader at the turnstile and walk on through. Using technology similar to E-ZPass, the card contains a RFID chip powerful enough to be read through leather, so there is no need to remove it from your wallet.

For NJ Transit riders the days of fishing through credit cards, folded dollar bills and scraps of paper to find that MetroCard in your wallet are going to be a thing of the past.

There will be not need to take the smartcard out of your wallet. This comes at a high expense but a great convenience for commuters. They are also hoping that this new type of smartcard gets carried over to the New York Transit systems way of thinking.

All 13 PATH stations in New York and New Jersey will be outfitted with SmartLink readers by April. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is spending more than $70 million on the system, including upgrades to current vending machines that will allow riders to add money to the cards. The new turnstiles will still be compatible with MetroCards. This is a big relief to the riders that continue along the subway in New York.

In the future they hope to link the account right to a credit card or a bank account, so that it is automatically refilled at regular intervals just like the EZ Pass system that is in place on the highways. For commuters who choose this option, there will be no need to wait in line at vending machines.

The Port Authority has not decided whether to charge customers to buy the actual Smartcard, but the units are not designed to be disposable the way empty MetroCards are.

There are about 40 people in a trial group are currently testing out the SmartCard in their daily use of NJ PATH trains.

The MTA of New York is also testing a similar program this spring, involving a credit card-linked tag that users would have to tap on the turnstile. We will just have to wait and see about that.

I just used a similar system in the Atlanta Subway. Down there it is called a Breeze card. It worked very well and I am sure it will be expanding to more subway systems in the very near future.