Author: Ana Stanca
Demand Generation Leader, Enghouse Transportation
The transportation landscape is evolving, and commuters today have a plethora of options to choose from for navigating the city. While this offers convenience and choice, public transit agencies face the challenge of ensuring their services remain seamless, modern, and integrated to attract and retain riders.
The current Closed-Loop fare card systems that still dominate in the US have a range of challenges for passengers. The need to navigate a unique payment system and fare rules, purchase a card, keep it funded, and carry it physically can be off-putting.
However, there is a way to improve the rider experience and minimize friction. By modernizing these cumbersome payment systems, we can make the commuting experience more efficient and integrated.
What to Look for in an Automated Fare Collection Solution
Enghouse Transportation Guide, “What to Look for in an Automated Fare Collection Solution” discusses the advantages of automated fare collection (AFC) solutions based on an Open-Loop payment system.
This type of system allows transit riders to quickly pass through validators with their own credit cards and smart devices using universal payment standards. With fast transaction speeds and the ability to adapt to fare rules, open-loop payment systems have been widely adopted by transit agencies in Europe and Asia.
AFC is user-friendly, as it is the same process used to make everyday purchases, from coffee to movie tickets, so riders will not be required to learn a proprietary system.
The benefits of AFC for transit agencies include long-term savings, faster boarding, and the potential to attract more customers. For riders, AFC offers increased convenience, better hygiene, and reduced confusion. For transit employees, AFC provides added safety and reduced hassle.
Making the transition
The implementation process for transitioning to an Open-Loop payment system for transit agencies does not have to be complicated. Cal-ITP, along with its approved vendors, has worked to simplify the process for agencies.
Becoming GTFS compliant is a crucial first step in the implementation process. Cal-ITP strongly suggests that agencies comply with the California Minimum General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) and has provided guidelines to help with compliance. This ensures that agencies can use GTFS data for reporting and allows customers to view real-time vehicle locations and fare information on their mobile devices.
Agencies can start their vendor selection process by using the Cal-ITP Mobility Marketplace. This platform showcases the vendors approved to provide components of the payment system.
After selecting vendors, agencies will work directly with them to source the payment acceptance devices and set up the back-office account software. The payment processing vendor will ensure seamless integration with the agency’s fare rules and set up the customer-facing app, either as a standalone app or integrated with the agency’s existing app.
Finally, vendors will provide training and user manuals to key agency staff, and the agency will then be ready to launch the new payment system.
Choosing the right solution
When choosing an AFC solution, transit agencies should look for a provider with experience in advanced transportation markets and ensure that the solution is interoperable with global payment standards.
The seven essential features to look for in an AFC solution include:
Our short and complete Solution Guide explores this subject in more detail.