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Superb Nonexistent Idea: Universal Subway Cards

We've posted before about the nation's proposed new high-speed rail network, and today Obama gave a speech about his plans to implement such a...

We've posted before about the nation's proposed new high-speed rail network, and today Obama gave a speech about his plans to implement such a network (though I can't find the text of the speech as of now). If, in the foreseeable future, we really will have people zipping between different cities for work and play, we're going to have a lot of people arriving in cities with no cars.

Cliff Kuang wrote about the last-mile problem in our Transportation issue, and these innovations will be key in a public transport-focused future. But I'd like to propose a more simple solution: If I, as a New York resident and MetroCard holder, take the Amtrak to Boston, I should be able to enter the Boston subways and buses with my MetroCard, instead of having to buy a useless Charlie Card that I will only use one time.


This technology already exists with tolls and E-ZPasses. A Massachusetts-issued E-ZPass (they're called Fast Lanes there) will auto-pay for tolls in New York and Maine, and any number of other states, so they've figured out a way to have electronic payments correctly deducted and issued to the appropriate highway toll funds. As we become more focused on people taking subways and buses, and people moving between cities in a carless way, we should make entering and exiting the systems as easy as zipping through the E-ZPass lane. I hope someone is working on this.



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