Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Universal Fare Media

My latest post is online at Human Transit. It is called “Universal Fare Media.” It talks about how London, Chicago, New York, and others are looking to reach a common fare platform that would enable using the same payment media in any of those cities. I talk about how this would really help boost bus ridership by visitors. Check it out, and as always I’ll plug Jarrett’s Human Transit blog overall as the best public transit blog out there.

Topics: Transportation

6 Responses to “Universal Fare Media”

  1. COAST says:

    There’s nothing more universal than cash or credit/debit cards. They’re good enough for all the destinations these travellers are going to, so why would you inconvenience potential riders by requiring some other form of payment? Transit will always be a red-headed stepchild so long as it’s less convenient than other options. Needing special money automatically makes it less convenient.

  2. Aaron M. Renn says:

    COAST, I believe what you are describing is a big part of the plan.

  3. Everett says:

    As an occasional bus rider, I would love to see something like this come to pass, but I disagree with banking on smart phones. Smart phones and mobile apps seem to be treated as the “unobtainium” solution to a lot of today’s problems. Not having any hard figures to back it up, I would venture that most bus riders won’t have smart phones for quite some time as their major cost is subscription based. This is not to say that investing in smart phone apps as a way to capture a wider ridership is a bad idea though; it just won’t help transit’s core customers.

  4. Aaron M. Renn says:

    I don’t know what the ultimate solution will look like, but I’d strongly suspect there will have to be multiple types of payment options. Some type of chipped pre-paid Master Card if nothing else. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect someone to bring that. If they could buy a proprietary fare card they could surely also do that.

  5. Alon Levy says:

    In cities where people use transit, smartcards are way, way more universal than anything else. Hong Kong’s Octopus and Tokyo’s Suica are both used as anonymous electronic money; Octopus is so widespread that Hong Kong is increasingly a cash-free society.

    It’s just cities like New York and London that do it wrong. In Hong Kong, you can get your Octopus chip in a watch or cellphone, so that you don’t have to take a card out of your pocket. In Tokyo, you can get your Suica in a cellphone, and have the fare billed to your cell account. But in London, Oyster is only available as a card; when people took out the chips and put it in their watches, paying more easily, Transport for London fined them.

  6. david vartanoff says:

    Having just returned from DC, Chicago, NYC and Boston, I certainly favor a national standard for senior discounts. That said, cash for occasional rides or easily purchased day/multi day passes printed on cheap paper waste far fewer resources than the mostly plastic cards.

    If the stored value cards had been cheap to implement, they might have been worth the general inconvenience. Unfortunately in the SF Bay Area the “Clipper” formerly “Translink” has been years late, poorly configured AND slower to use on buses/trolley coaches than the “flash passes” they replace. As a consequence of institutional cowardice, the second entry door readers bought to facilitate POP/rear door boarding have been neutered or removed. The vending organisation delays uploads by 72 hrs between purchase and card recognition by the onboard readers

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