Buying rail tickets — there's an app for that

Forget having to fumble with a credit card or digging for cash, next week Metro-North rail riders may purchase train tickets using an app on their mobile devices. Once on board, commuters will simply need to show the digital ticket on their smartphone device to the conductor.

The app, which is named “MTA eTix,” can be downloaded now and will become functional for stations along the New Haven Line, including the Danbury branch line, beginning Monday, Aug. 22.  Versions are available for both Apple and Android devices, and can be downloaded at app stores by searching the keyword “MTA eTix.”

The new system was announced earlier today, Aug. 18, by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) and Metro-North.

In addition, the governor announced that in response to customer demand, bicycle racks have been installed and are now in service on every New Haven Line commuter train. The New Haven Line is the busiest commuter rail line in America.  In 2015, ridership reached an all-time high, surpassing 40.3 million passenger trips.

Ticket app

Along with the ability to purchase tickets on the app, users can also check train schedules and see their train’s service status. It also offers account management tools, giving customers the ability to secure refunds for unused mobile tickets, request duplicate receipts, and manage account information.

To use a digital ticket with the app, commuters will need to create an account and then follow three easy steps:

  1. Purchase the ticket by entering information about origin and destination, select the type of ticket (one way, round trip, ten trip, or weekly), and enter credit card or debit card information. The ticket is then saved in an electronic “Ticket Wallet” feature in the app.

  2. Prior to boarding the train, the commuter should pull up the ticket from the device’s “Ticket Wallet” and activate it by tapping the “activate ticket” button.

  3. When a conductor walks through the train to ask for tickets, the commuter should have their activated digital ticket displayed and show their smartphone screen to the conductor. The conductor will visually inspect the mobile ticket, which incorporates digital anti-counterfeiting features.

The “MTA eTix” app was developed by Masabi, Ltd., which has also created electronic mobile ticketing programs for MBTA Commuter Rail in Boston, NICE Bus on Long Island, and Metrolink in Los Angeles.  Metro-North Railroad selected Masabi following a competitive request for proposals.

Bicycle racks

Following the recent purchase of 405 new, state-of-the-art M-8 rail cars that are now in service on the New Haven Line, the state began outfitting the cars with bicycle racks in response to customer demand. The cars operate in pairs, and a total of 190 racks have been installed and are available for use.

Bicycles are not permitted on peak-hour (morning and evening rush) trains.

The cost of installing the racks was $209,000. Connecticut’s share was $135,000 and the State of New York paid the balance under the 65-35% financial agreement between the states.

The New Haven Line is owned by the State of Connecticut and is operated by Metro-North Railroad under contract with CTDOT.