U.S. Transit Services Switching to Digital Payment

To help encourage the use of public transit and new mobility services, cities across the U.S. are transitioning away from paper fare cards to digital payments that can be completed via smartphone apps.

In addition to making it easier for riders to book and pay for public transit, SmartCitiesDive notes the apps cab enable a one-stop shop for mobility. So-called mobility-as-a-service platforms allow users to compare and blend various transportation options, including prices, times and routing.

In San Francisco, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) has approved a $461 million upgrade to transit fare payment. The plan will phase out paper fare cards next year across 22 regional transit agencies.

A new mobile app will ultimately be available on 3,500 bus and light rail routes, plus bike-share and paratransit (for elderly and disabled people) services.

Los Angeles is moving in a similar direction with plans to upgrade its TAP Smart Card system into an account-based multi-modal service. The new TAPForce payment app will eventually encompass bike-share, microtransit, electric vehicle sharing and charging, ride-hailing and parking.

Last year, the Las Vegas Monorail became the first transit agency to let riders pay their fares using Google Pay app for Android smartphones. Google plans to expand the system, which also allows users to view transit maps and tracks travel history, to other cities this year.

The Washington, D.C., transit authority plans to launch mobile aps in three phases, starting this year. Customers will be able to check fares and get service information in real time at bus and rail stations.