An easier way to pay for taxi fare has quietly taken off in the fast lane.

More than 853,000 cab rides were paid for with smart cards last month, or about 20 percent of all trips covered with a credit card, according to data from the city’s largest meter manufacturers. Usage of the tap-and-go cards has nearly doubled in the last year without any promotion by the city.

“It’s great. You don’t have to hand anything over,” said William Henderson, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, who uses a smart card. The MTA is pushing to eventually replace the MetroCard with a similar system.

Smart cards readers have been accepted in 90 percent of the city’s 13,200 cabs since October 2007, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Customers can use the device if they have a key fob from their bank or a bank or credit card with a small chip that wirelessly transmits the charge.

Jose Bataller, a taxi driver for 23 years, said he is a fan of customers who pay with a smart card because it’s faster to tap than to swipe a credit card. “Time is everything in this job,” Bataller said.

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