As part of an effort to continue its fare modernization initiative, NJ Transit has begun installing onboard ticket validators on its entire bus fleet.

NJ Transit spokesman Jim Smith said the installation process, which started on buses at the Oradell garage, will proceed to other garages in the coming months. The installation phase follows a pilot program on six bus routes based out of the Morris garage.

As customers board the bus with their already-purchased paper ticket or mobile ticket on their smartphones, they can scan the barcode on the electronic validator instead of handing the bus operator the ticket.

The idea is to limit customer touch points as much as possible. If NJ Transit can eliminate that hand-off of the paper ticket between the customer and the bus operator, this could help reduce the spread of COVID-19, Smith said.

Smith said this technology had been in development prior to COVID-19 but its implementation now sees greater significance.

NJ Transit is upgrading the fare payment systems as well. Smith said this would result in faster boarding.

"They can simply walk on the bus, scan them and then take their seat," he said.

The bus validators also set the stage for other improvements down the road such as the acceptance of additional fare mediums. That could mean contactless credit and debit cards. These will be the machines that will be able to handle these kinds of transactions.

Customers opting to pay cash on the bus can still do so on buses where cash is accepted.

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