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Downloaded LIRR tix on phones will be tested at L.I. golf tourney

A subway rider at the Ditmars station of the N and Q line uses a cell phone above ground.
TimesLedger Newspapers

For the first time, Long Island Rail Road commuters will be able to download tickets to cellphones or print them during a pilot project during a golf tournament next month.

But the debut of this capability will be limited to the duration of the Barclays PGA Tour golf tournament at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, L.I., Aug. 21 to Aug. 26.

Travelers will be able to buy their LIRR tickets online and print them out or display their bar-coded tickets on a smartphone in a pilot program partnership with the Long Island technology firm CooCoo.

“For the first time in the history of the LIRR, our customers will be able to buy their train tickets online and print them at their home or office for the Barclays Event,” said LIRR President Helena Williams.

“They also can simply download an LIRR ticket to their smartphones. This pilot program offers great customer convenience and allows the LIRR to test out the CooCoo technology during the six days of the Barclays Event.”

Ryan Thompson, co-founder of CooCoo, said, “This system is the first live mobile ticketing solution offered by a major transit agency in the United States. The Long Island Rail Road is at the forefront of the biggest change in transit technology in years. Consumers are demanding the convenience of purchasing tickets through mobile devices and on the Web, and forward-looking mass transit operators are meeting that demand in creative ways like the PGA event.”

CooCoo, based in Huntington, L.I., has provided real-time arrival and departure times via text messages to LIRR riders since 2010.

An estimated 35,000 fans are expected daily at Bethpage and as many as one-third will take the LIRR to and from the Barclays Tournament, featuring the top 125 Professional Golfers’ Association players competing for $8 million in prize money.

The LIRR will provide extra half-hourly trains to Farmingdale starting Aug. 23, the first day of competition, and running through the end of the tournament Aug. 26, when largest crowds are expected.

Once online ticket purchases are made, LIRR riders will get train tickets via e-mail, enabling them to print out the bar-coded ticket or store the image on their smartphone for presentation to LIRR staff at Farmingdale station, where riders’ tickets will be validated with handheld bar code readers.

Fans will then board PGA courtesy buses for a short ride to Bethpage State Park, home of the renowned Black Course.

LIRR personnel will be on hand at Bethpage State Park, at the Farmingdale LIRR station and at Penn Station with handheld ticket machines that will enable LIRR riders to buy train tickets using credit or debit cards.

LIRR tickets purchased online via CooCoo are valid only for the day specified on the ticket and cannot be used for travel on the LIRR at any other time or to reach any destination other than Farmingdale.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority reported that its Bus Time initiative, the mobile service providing straphangers with real-time information on the nearest bus, has just reached a milestone.

Since the service began in January, bus riders have sent more than 1 million text messages requesting information.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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