Credit card purchases of tickets on LIRR trains

Radio this morning said that some LIRR passengers will get a chance to buy a ticket on the train with a credit card rather than cash as is currently the option.

Two interesting tidbits: first, the “penalty” fare still applies, which is some bump to the price of a ticket at the machine if you get on and there were machines wherever you were. (For NJ Transit, I think that’s $5 extra.) The second thing is that the LIRR bought 37 card readers for $1200 each! I can’t believe they got suckered into that deal, plus paying a discount rate on the charges. They should have been able to negotiate the hardware costs to zero. Because you can bet there’s a maintenance fee, some recurring service charges, repair and warranty issues, and a whole lot of other mess that might have been resolved by some wifi iPod Touches and a Square device at, you know, a much lower cost. And when the processing companies take their 2-3%, giving the hardware away to subsidize that recurring revenue stream isn’t a flat-out silly idea.

I guess no one wants SMS ticket purchases when there’s a hardware contract to be had!