Apple is all over transit these days. Not only is the California company readying a flagship store in Grand Central, its iPhones are soon to be all over the Long Island Railroad. And we aren't talking about the ones in the purses of passengers heading out to the Hamptons (though they actually are important to this story). No, we're talking about the fact that starting today select LIRR conductors are being outfitted with iPhones [Reg. req'd.] that will allow them to accept credit cards from passengers on board trains. Between this and meter payments via cellphone, the future is very clearly now!
If you've ever bought something from an Apple store you've probably seen a version of the LIRR's new toys: iPhones with some additional hardware to easily scan a credit card. The LIRR's version also includes a printer for receipts. Initially only a few "specially trained" LIRR conductors will be using the buggers, nicknamed TIM (Ticket Issuance Machine) on trains between Ronkonkoma and Greenport as well as on some weekend trains to Montauk.
If all goes well, the LIRR hopes to roll the $1,200 devices across the whole system (right now it has 37). All in all, the whole idea just smacks of common sense. But the specific example that the agency offered Newsday for why they've spent the last six months developing TIM is kind of adorable:
[LIRR president Helena] Williams said she began pursuing a way to accept credit cards on trains after several instances last year of riders -- particularly young people visiting the Hamptons -- not carrying cash to buy tickets onboard.
In some cases, those customers would get off the train to buy a ticket at Amagansett -- one of the few East End stations with a ticket vending machine -- and then return to their seats, holding up the train.
"We were like, 'We can't have this,' " Williams said.
In other words? Forgetful kids going to the Hamptons inadvertently helped bring progress to the people. The least they could do!