Federal Transit Administration research describes four solutions to ensure that all users can access mobile ticketing systems.

Findings from a state-of-the-practice assessment analyzing the current state of Mobility Payment Integrations in the United States.

Nationwide; United States

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Lesson Learned

MPI offers flexible, technology-forward solutions to transit providers. However, agencies have both a legal and an ethical responsibility to serve their entire populations, and not all users have access to bank cards. Thus, any potential MPI implementation—no matter how cutting-edge its primary ticketing system is—must provide an easily accessible way for travelers to pay for their trips with cash. The assessment provided a number of possible solutions to support under- and un-banked customers.
  1. Offer vending machines at stations or bus stops that accept cash. It may not be feasible to place vending machines at every bus stop along a route, so the assessment noted that this is best included as one part of multiple efforts.
  2. Offer "gift cards" from retailers. In some cases, this may be a simple preloaded card that is available for purchase; in others, customers may be able to reload their transit accounts via participating retail stores. This requires adequate consideration for the spatial locations of eligible outlets.
  3. Use a purpose-built app to manage the funds electronically. It is important to ensure that the app is accessible from as many types of phone as possible to ensure that customers with affordably priced smartphones may access it.
  4. Continue to accept cash at gates and on-board vehicles. This solution may not be physically possible depending on the hardware used for the mobile ticketing platform, and it may mitigate any reduced boarding times from the new system, but it does ensure that travelers will be able to equitably access service. While many agencies are eager to move towards being cashless, it may be worthwhile to fully investigate if this is the best direction to take.
Interviewed agencies did note that it was more difficult than they had expected to integrate their gift cards with retailers' operation. In particular, replenishment was a source of complication, as some businesses have different replenishment policies and it may be difficult or impossible for an agency to ensure that a given store location will have sufficient stock of cards.

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Mobility Payment Integration: State-of-the-Practice Scan

Author: Bartinique, I.,and J. Hassol

Published By: U.S. DOT Federal Transit Administration

Source Date: 10/01/2019

Other Reference Number: FTA Report No. 0143

URL: https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/42672

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Ned Schweikert


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United States

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smart cards, electronic fare payment, SmartCard, smart card, SmartCards

Lesson ID: 2020-00954