Subway Fares via Phone

SUBWAYblogger (how’s that for obnoxious typography?) points at the MTA’s turnstile upgrade allowing riders to pay for their fares with cell phones, saying that you have to “just look for the little green star symbol”. A little bit of digging reveals a few nuggets that the SUBWAYblogger failed to mention: you have to have a CitiBank account and a Cingular cellphone. Not to get all lecture-y, but this is what the debate over Network Neutrality is about. Imagine if a landline company tried to pull this shit:

Supplies are running out! Visit us on the web, or, if you have a Qwest-provided telephone line, call our 1-800 number to place your order now!

That ain’t hyperbole, either, folks. That’s a closed network run by people who love to make money off of you. If Cingular can control the “pay with your cellphone” market on the subway for long enough, they will get converts from other providers. Those of us who love our current plans and current phones, however, get screwed.

5 Comments so far

  1. Neil (unregistered) on November 1st, 2006 @ 1:27 am

    This is a trial being tested by a couple of companies. You are not being forced to use their system.

  2. Benkay (unregistered) on November 1st, 2006 @ 1:51 am

    And how much longer than necessary will it take to open it to the other major carriers? If I want to use a contactless paying system, I most certainly am forced to use their system. It’s financially idiotic, because I’d end up spending more on a new phone and plan than it’d be worth in my personal cost/benefit analysis.

  3. Noah (unregistered) on November 1st, 2006 @ 8:43 am

    Yea, I hear what you mean Ben, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say. They have to start somewhere and they are using this as a small startup test. It will help them understand technical bugs, bottlenecks, customer satisfaction, pros, cons, etc. If it works well and removes congestion and/or other problems, then the MTA will open it to everyone through some sort of wand (a la Mobil Speedpass) or through other phone carriers as well… Why wouldn’t they? It will be so much easier!

  4. Benkay (unregistered) on November 1st, 2006 @ 11:19 am

    I don’t trust government apparatuses to do what’s in the best interest of their customers when there’s money to be made in screwing them.

    And private companies are involved! That’s a recipe for bad news. I don’t know the MTA that well, so I just mistrust them in the same way I mistrust most bureaucracies.

  5. Noah (unregistered) on November 1st, 2006 @ 12:42 pm

    Benkay, I’m with you on that point! The gov (local, state, and national) has not proven to be extremely trustworthy over the last 30-50 years, so I understand your skepticism.

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