Travel is part of everyday life, and billions of people around the world rely on public transportation. Visa’s second Future of Urban Mobility Survey showed that 42% of surveyed riders plan to use transit more in the next year, and despite the growth of hybrid work trends, 62% of surveyed riders already are taking transit at least three days per week.
But even as transit recovers post-pandemic, the riders who are getting back on board have changed.1 Expectations around how to pay fares have evolved in a digital direction.
When asked how they were most likely to pay for transit in the year to come, 45% of respondents to Visa’s survey said they were planning to use contactless options with their credit or debit card, or mobile device.1 As riders seek out new ways to make their transit journey more convenient, they have firmly embraced contactless payments as the way to make it a reality.
Visa has helped to activate more than 550 urban mobility projects across the globe since launching tap-to-pay technology on transit in 2011. Recently, the company hit a new milestone as Visa processed one billion tap-to-ride transactions on global transit systems in just ten months. That averages out to 38 transactions every second. The future of transit is digital and flexible, and contactless payment systems are leading the way.
Powering a new kind of transit transaction
Globally, riders are rethinking what they want in their transit experience, prioritizing payment options that give them a simple, seamless, and secure experience. Visa’s Future of Urban Mobility Survey reveals a resounding demand for digital payments to be front and center in transit, finding that a near-unanimous number (91%) of public transit riders worldwide now expect contactless payment options on public transportation.1
Contactless payments offer operators a bright future
Contactless fare payments for transit make it possible for operators to simplify the ticketing process, eliminating the need for passengers to buy dedicated tickets or passes to ride. A simpler process for getting riders through the turnstiles means it takes less time to board the bus or train, keeping everyone moving.
After all, 44% of riders stated that convenience was a top motivator in their choice to take public transit, while another 40% said that time saved due to faster transactions was the biggest motivator for getting on board.1
New payment methods and fare structures that give riders greater flexibility have taken hold across the world. Fare capping – which allows riders to take public transit for free after hitting a certain number of rides in a set amount of time – has become increasingly popular among riders as the mix of hybrid work and shifting travel plans injected a desire for greater flexibility. Now, according to Visa, nearly two-thirds (61%) of surveyed riders said capped fares would encourage them to ride public transit more often compared to traditional means of payment.1
Digital payments are moving transit forward
Looking at the expectations of transit riders globally, Visa’s survey showed that sustainability and the environment play an important role when opting to take public transportation, with 88% of respondents identifying it as an important factor.1 With contactless payment systems cutting down on the need for physical ticketing, trains and buses can spend less time idling, reducing emissions, and limit the amount of paper or plastic needed for a physical pass to ride.
Reaching one billion contactless transactions on global transit systems processed on the Visa network in ten months is only the beginning. It’s safe to say that transit has gone digital, and contactless payments are comfortably positioned to be the driving force, getting more riders on board and off to their destinations well into the future.
1 Visa’s “Future of Urban Mobility” survey: May 2022 (conducted by Wakefield Research among 11,550 adults who take public transportation in 14 markets: U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, U.K., South Africa, UAE, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Peru, Saudi Arabia and Egypt)
2 “Ten months, one billion tap-to-pay transactions on public transit” September 2022