No Tickets Needed: Rail Passengers Can Now Use Credit Cards for Rides

View of the Israel Railways electronic time table at the Tel Aviv Savidor Central Railway Station. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Beginning Monday, Israel Railways began a pilot program that does away with the need to buy train tickets. Instead, passengers can use a credit card when they enter a station and when they get off at their destination. When they pass their card through the smart reader when leaving the station, the system determines where they got on using the credit card data – and directly charges the card for the fare. The result is that passengers don’t have to buy tickets and wait on line for them.

The program is in a pilot stage, and the smart readers that the credit cards are passed through are currently available at stations in Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Binyamina, Netanya, Rechovot, Lod, Yavneh and Modi’in. The system will be installed in Be’er Yaakov later this week.

Currently, the system only works for a one-way regular fare; passengers who want discounts for round-trip tickets, youth or elderly fares, etc. still have to go to ticket windows or machines. But the railway is planning on installing those features as well; for example, if a passenger travels home via rail using the opposite route that they came on, the system will automatically apply the round-trip discount to the second fare. In addition, passengers will be invited to register their credit card numbers with the railway, associating it with their “passenger profile” – elderly, handicapped, etc.

In a statement, Israel Railways said that the program was “part of our efforts to improve service, saving passengers time and improving the flow of passengers at the entrance to stations, making things easier for commuters and tourists. Israel Railways is investing a great deal of resources in technology to improve service and save time.”

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