Google Pay teams with Cubic so transit riders can pay fares with Android phones

Mike Freeman, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Business News

Cubic Corp., which makes fare collection technology for some of the world's largest public transit agencies, is working with Google to make it easier for riders to use their Android smartphones to pay for fares.

Cubic is collaborating with Google to add transit cards to the Google Pay platform, allowing unbanked riders, youth and others without credit or debit cards to tap their smartphones at the gate to pay for public transit.

"Working with Cubic will help us simplify the commute for Google Pay users in several major transit systems -- including support for Clipper cards in the San Francisco Bay Area," said Ambarish Kenghe, director of product management for Google Pay. "Ultimately, our goal is to make riding public transit seamless and convenient for as many people as we can."

Cubic Corp. has installed open-payment transit fare collection technology in a few cities, such as London, New York and Miami. Others are in the process of upgrading to the technology, which lets riders buy fares by tapping a contactless credit or debit card at a reader at the gate.

These contactless cards have embedded near field communication chips that support wireless tap-to-pay. Most modern smartphones do, too. So riders who have loaded their credit/debit card information into the Google Pay can simply tap their smartphones to buy bus or train fares in cities with open payment systems.

But not all transit customers have credit or debit cards, said Boris Karsch, vice president of strategy with Cubic Transportation Systems. School age youth, for example, may have smartphones but are unlikely to have access to a credit card. Unbanked riders -- typically lower income people who don't have relationships with banks -- also wouldn't be able to use their mobile phones to buy transit fares.

So Cubic and Google are working to add transit cards to the Google Pay platform.

"We are very excited to work with Google to provide travelers with a simple and easy way to pay for transit fares with devices they already rely on and use everyday," said Matt Cole, president of Cubic Transportation Systems.


Cubic and Google intend to enable transit cards to be securely reloaded with funds via the mobile phone. Senior discounts, rewards for frequent riders and other programs that transit agencies sometimes offer card customers could be extended to the Google Pay platform.

While the companies plan to roll out the program first in the Bay Area next year, other cities also are looking to jump onboard.

"This collaboration between Google and Cubic will help us build on the success we've seen so far with contactless payments here in New York," said Al Putre, executive director of the One Metro New York Fare Payment Program, in a statement. "We want to do everything we can to makes sure our riders have the best options available."

In April, Cubic announced that it's working with Apple to bring transit cards to Apple Wallet app. Apple is tentatively scheduled to roll out the program in Chicago later this year, and is also working to enable transit cards in Apple Wallet in parts of New York.

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