How to Go Contactless

California is making it easier for public transit providers to accept contactless credit/debit/prepaid cards or mobile wallets on a smart device through Master Service Agreements (MSAs) established by the California Department of General Services (DGS). Transit providers can take advantage of the MSAs to purchase the key hardware and software needed to accept contactless payments.

Reach out to us for support at any time as your agency explores these resources.


Getting started

How do I get started?

Cal-ITP will provide the resource materials and technical support you need to navigate modernizing your fleet to accept contactless payments. To help us better assist you, we ask that you complete an interest form to request Cal-ITP support. With this information, we can determine how best to support you with developing a project scope, getting buy-in from internal stakeholders, engaging with vendors, and implementing your new fare payments system.

After you complete the form, we welcome you to browse the Contactless Payments MSA Information Packet (PDF) to understand the overall process and your next steps.

What else do I need to know about contactless payments?

If you’d like to learn more about contactless payments or need an informational presentation to share with your staff or board of directors, please review this Contactless Payments Introduction (PDF).

What to know about MSAs?

What are MSAs?

The California Department of General Services (DGS), in collaboration with Cal-ITP, conducted a Request for Proposals (RFP) that established six competitively awarded Master Service Agreements (MSAs), contracts that allow U.S. public transportation providers to purchase directly from California’s DGS without further competitive bidding.

The MSAs allow any local government entity that operates public transportation services (“transit providers”) to purchase goods and services off of California’s MSAs. Out-of-state transit providers—including but not limited to members of the Oregon Cooperative Procurement Program (ORCPP) and the Washington State Purchasing Cooperative (WSPC)—can also participate. Each transit provider should determine whether use of the MSAs is consistent with its procurement policies and regulations. California’s MSAs are generally known as State Purchasing Schedules in other states.

Projects resulting from these MSAs may be funded through grants from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and/or the State of California, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and other sources of local and state public funding. Check with your funding agencies.

Non-California Agencies

Not in California? You can still leverage Cal-ITP by accessing our MSAs. Although we cannot provide an account manager to out of state agencies, we can answer technical questions and provide resources to get you started. Follow the guidelines described below and incorporate the MSA into your contract. The contracts or MSAs listed on this site are examples of a “state purchasing schedule.” These schedules are agreements between a state or related entity and vendor(s) to provide goods or services at agreed-upon prices. Fundamentally, state purchasing schedules are designed to accommodate other parties that may enter into and benefit from the agreements in the future. You will sign a contract with the vendors directly. However, the terms and conditions (and pricing!) from the MSA are incorporated by reference in the contract that you will sign. You can use a California STD-213 or another DGS approved user agreement or equivalent.

GTFS Compliance

General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) is the global standard for providing up-to-date transit information. We recommend creating an action plan for becoming GTFS-ready before going contactless, as the contactless payment hardware and software services vendors you select can help you use this data for reporting purposes plus help your customers see your real-time vehicle location and fare information on journey-planning smartphone maps and apps.


You’ll need to ensure internet connectivity on your fleet to properly enable contactless fare collection. You can view details on Data Plans. Your transit agency may be eligible to upgrade your cellular data plan and save on your monthly connectivity costs.

How much will this cost?

When you’re ready to start creating cost estimates for purchasing contactless payment hardware and software services, this MSA Cost Estimation Tool (an Excel Workbook) will help transit agency staff to a) compare MSA-awarded vendors’ maximum prices and develop ballpark estimates for budgeting purposes (and board presentations), and b) make scoping decisions as you prepare to email vendors during the vendor engagement phase.

As stated, the prices in this workbook are maximums. Transit agencies are strongly encouraged to reach out to vendors directly for tailored pricing. Prices may be reduced and/or fee categories waived, at vendors’ sole discretion.


Assess vendors

You can review available MSAs. Click through to each contract number for complete terms and conditions and to read MSA User Instructions.

Draft a Scope of Work (SOW)

After you’ve read through the Contactless Payments MSA Information Packet and Contactless Payments Introduction, move on to this MSA SOW Template and Guidance (PDF).

This PDF provides detailed guidance for transit agency staff on how to complete a User Agreement Scope of Work (SOW) as required to participate in the MSAs for Payment Acceptance Devices (PADs) and Transit Processor Services. Completing an SOW will assist your agency with key scoping decisions as you work toward purchasing hardware and software services.

Cal-ITP can assist California transit agencies in drafting and/or reviewing their SOW, making sure it includes your desired operating objectives, intended operating environment, and any desired value-added services. Just send the SOW to [email protected] when it’s ready if you haven’t already connected with Cal-ITP.

Send the SOW to vendors

When your SOW is ready to send to hardware and software services vendors, you can find their contact information in the MSA User Instructions document (which is linked from each vendor’s contract number). We recommend sending the SOW to all MSA-awarded hardware and software services vendors.

You can use this email template when sending out your SOW. Be sure to CC [email protected]. Unless otherwise specified by the transit agency, each vendor will respond within five business days of receiving the SOW.

Review vendor proposals

Look over the proposals you receive from each hardware and software services vendor. Decide which vendors you want to negotiate with. When you reach an agreement, including any necessary value-added services, you’re ready to place your order for hardware and software services by signing a contract for your purchases.

What contract do I sign with the selected vendors?

After you’ve finalized the details of your project with the vendor “contractors” you’ve selected, you’ll execute a User Agreement contract and sign it as the “contracting agency.” The User Agreement contract can be the Standard Agreement (STD 213; note that you’ll need Adobe Acrobat or Reader to complete this PDF form) from the California Department of General Services (DGS) or an equivalent contract form, such as this Sample User Agreement, which can be used by transit providers across the U.S. The User Agreement will incorporate by reference the terms of the MSA and contain the Scope of Work and Payment Provisions.


Get ready to launch

Cal-ITP can work with you to develop an operational launch plan for your agency, including staff training guides, customer-facing communications, and marketing materials.

Maintenance and support

Cal-ITP is here to help! Please download and review our Support Framework - a document you can fill in and use to provide information to your internal team(s) about roles and responsibilities, common troubleshooting steps, how to manage your vendor relationships and how to monitor key performance outcomes.

For additional help, you can contact us for assistance or send an email to [email protected].