Steamship Authority Launches Contactless Ticketing

Steamship Authority photo:

WOODS HOLE – The Steamship Authority is launching its eFerry tickets, a contactless ticketing solution for passengers that will offer a quick and easy way for travelers to board their ferry.

Although electronic and mobile ticketing has become more popular worldwide, the Steamship Authority is the first domestic ferry operator to use near-field communication technology, commonly called NFC, instead of asking passengers to scan a barcode displayed on a smartphone.

The use of NFC will allow for easier, faster, and safer boarding while providing a more seamless experience for passengers.

The eFerry tickets launched as a live test last week on the Authority’s high-speed route between Hyannis and Nantucket, where passengers already have the ability to purchase tickets via their mobile phone.

Passengers on that route are now also able to redeem their tickets by loading them to their Apple Wallet and Google Pay prior to arriving at the terminal and holding their iPhone, Apple Watch or Android device near a ticket scanner to board the ferry.

“Basically if you’ve ever used Apple Wallet or Google Pay to pay for a transaction at a store, it’s the same process as that,” said Steamship Authority Communications Director Sean Driscoll.

“Once you get to the terminal you just have to hold your phone near one of our readers and it’ll pick up the ticket automatically and it will let you board the ferry so it’s even quicker than the process we have now on the fast ferry of scanning the barcodes.”

Following the conclusion of the high-speed ferry season and a review of lessons learned from the live test, the eFerry tickets will be made available for traditional ferries on both the Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard routes in the first quarter of 2020.

“We’re not taking anything away from the offerings we have now, this is an additional offering, an additional way for people to get on the boats,” said Driscoll.

“We’re not subtracting, this is just an addition.”

The eFerry ticket system also will include the ability to load the five-ride Lifeline Card, the 10-ride Ferry Pass, and the 46-ride commuter books to a customer’s Apple Wallet or Google Play.

The Steamship Authority has been working with representatives from Apple, Google, Pronto CX, and SKIDATA to ensure the eFerry tickets work seamlessly on the most popular smartphones and associated smart devices offered today.

The ticket was designed by Pronto CX, a mobile-first smart event and customer engagement platform specializing in tap-and-go Apple Wallet and Google Pay based experiences including ticketed travel, event tickets, contactless payments, and loyalty/membership program enablement.

Pronto CX will continue to work with the Authority to manage the digital ticket’s behavior, such as content updates, in real time.

“Tap and go’ via Apple Wallet or Google Pay is simply the easiest, fastest, and most secure way to convey tickets,” said Pronto CX Head of Product Conrad Caplin.

“Customers are going to love it because it will save them loads of time. Plus the pass is dynamic, meaning it can be updated in real time to display relevant travel information and provide access to additional resources.”

The Authority is using the current equipment at the terminals for its eFerry program; the ticket readers are designed by SKIDATA, an international leader in the field of access solutions and their management and a longtime partner of the SSA.

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About Luke Leitner

Luke Leitner grew up in Watertown Massachusetts and now lives in West Yarmouth on the Cape. He has been a part of the news team in the News Center since the spring of 2019. He studied business communications at Western New England University.
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