The Benefits of Contactless Transit Payments

New tech can streamline boarding and make fare capping easier, but can risk creating new challenges for low-income riders.

1 minute read

August 8, 2023, 10:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Close-up of woman holding up smartphone up to contactless public transit payment kiosk

Xavier Lorenzo / Adobe Stock

According to an article by John Adams in American Banker, contactless transit fare collection, which grew sharply during the pandemic as agencies sought ways to keep riders and operators safe and prevent the spread of Covid-19, are transforming transit in a variety of ways.

In Mexico City and Lisbon, Portugal, contactless payment systems that work with iPhones and other devices let riders avoid prepayment and make travel easier for tourists and travelers who don’t have local transit cards. “In June, the Netherlands became one of the first countries to adopt an open loop contactless transit payments system for the entire country. Travelers can use any debit, credit or digital wallet account on all buses, trains, metro systems, trams and ferries across all local networks.”

Moving to contactless fare collection can speed up service, reducing the time needed for boarding and allowing for all-door boarding, and creates the opportunity for fare capping. But some transit advocates say removing a cash option puts many low-income riders at a disadvantage. In Los Angeles, new fare collection tech and a fare capping program are being combined with community outreach and distribution of TAP cards to ensure the cost of the cards isn’t a burden to riders who traditionally pay in cash.

Monday, August 7, 2023 in American Banker

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