How Open Payment Can Help Public Transport Authorities To Fight Against Climate Change

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Climate emergency concern is for sure the biggest challenge in the face of our generation. Among all the efforts to be done by every citizens and actors of the society, the fight against the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions goes through a drastic change in our transport habits.

Climate emergency concern is for sure the biggest challenge in the face of our generation. Among all the efforts to be done by every citizens and actors of the society, the fight against the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions goes through a drastic change in our transport habits. In Europe, transport is indeed the activity  that generates the most GHG emissions: far beyond manufacturing industries, coal energy or any other business activities (1).

Already in 2015, the United Nations were quoting “transport systems” as a priority in their Sustainable Development Goals agenda : “by 2030, Local and Regional Governments (LRGs) will have to provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all (…) notably by increasing the public transport trips by 50% (3) (…)”. If we are far from this target objective 50% increase today in 2023, the shift for more public transport use and adoption is now definitely triggered and will be fostered by all means by the public authorities in the next years.

More public transport means to invest more in their infrastructure and offer in the peri-urban and sub-urban areas, but also to re-think our relationship to mobility in town centers and inner cities. For instance, a recent study done by Galitt Conseil and ALD Automotive shows that 50% of the urban travel journeys are generally less than 5 kilometers long (4). This statistic shows that there is still a large space for more new soft mobilities like bike or e-scooter self-service, but also to bring smooth and swift access to public transports, especially in the inner cities where the transportation network is dense and intricated. Besides this, the proliferation of low emission zones (LEZ) (5) in the coming years for the main EU metropolitan areas will accelerate the need for more reliable and efficient soft mobility alternatives.

At Worldline, we have always thought that the payment revolution brought by the digital UX change would progressively touch every economy vertical branches, and not only the retail one. The Open Payment service (where the banking card replaces the paper ticket) is already a strong adoption success  within the urban transports : more than 500 projects launched in the world by transit agencies according to Visa (6). Where it is launched, the strong ramp-up and penetration rate of EMV contactless TAPs volumes comparing to legacy ticketing systems shows that it fits perfectly with the on-going digital payment revolution trend : travel payment must be fast, frictionless, transparent, with a safe universal access media that could be a banking card or its emulation into a payment wallet.

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When we talk about open payments, travelling commuters expectations get generally higher than operators initial thoughts, and the level of adoption is generally larger than what the public transport authorities and organization foresee : for instance, the open payment travels now done through mobile phones or wearables within the New York city transit agency (NYCTA) weight already higher than 60% of the overall (7) !

If they don’t want to stay laggards and embrace efficiently their customer travelers expectations, public transport operators (PTOs) now have to support cEMV (8) on top of their legacy closed-loop ticketing systems, and review their overall tickets distribution channel costs mix. Open Payment offers indeed smooth, easy, smart, transparent access to the public transport networks for all., the follow up is made easy with real-time spending simulation on access. The benefits of this technology is also more inclusive as it is available for all types of travel populations (casual or not), and it is by far easier to use for the town’s new visitors, disabled and illiterate people . Thanks to capping rules principle aligned with ticketing, Open Payment moreover guarantees the best value fare for travelers whatever their travel pace or frequency. It will for sure also support concessionary fares in a future vision.

In a post-COVID crisis world where Work From Home (WFH) and hybrid working is overhauling people habits and generates less regular and predictable commuting patterns for PTOs, Open Payment and cEMV can become the way for them to secure and increase their revenue streams. To fight against the strong drop of their season tickets subscriptions, they have to provide smooth and flexible access to their network, and Open Payment enables it.

If PTOs want to convince the even more single drivers to leave their car at home or at the parking and use public transports instead, they need also to challenge time travel, safety, cleanliness and convenience brought by the private car experience. And this is not so simple.

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Open Payment can contribute to the improved time travel and convenience expected (time and concern for finding a parking place is always underestimated by the car drivers). But for this, the travel authorities have to put all their strengths into the battle, and put the stress on increasing awareness around carbon-footprint vehicles drawbacks (e.g. petrol price) and the city space occupied by cars (even electro ones) or two wheelers.

The feedback from populations where it is already launched, is that Open Payment is casual, seamless and foreign traveler visitors adopt this new way of move very quickly. We can prove that Open Payment fosters the transport modal shift, by enlarging the total number of journey units for the public transport organization that deploys it. The bus drivers also especially appreciate Open Payment, because they can really focus on their driving role and limit dispute remarks from travelling users when they validate their tickets (and at the end of the day, it is more commercial speed for the operator).

The end-user travelers expectations are high : in a recent study done by VISA Inc. by 14 countries and towards 11.550 adult people, 32% of polled people consider contactless payment access as the first element that would encourage them to use more public transport (9).

Climate challenge positive impact gives a real meaning to my job on a daily basis. But it also gives me more reasons to strongly convince my targeted customers i.e. public transport organizations and authorities to go for the shift… and then contribute to act more virtuously to fight against global warming effects.

(1) source: IEA report, 2020. 29% of the CO2 emissions within EU countries come from the transports activities

(2) source : https://sdgs.un.org/fr/goals; Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 SDGs was adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York by the member states in September 2015

(3) UITP (Union Internationale des Transports Publics) Report May 2019 : Mobility and the SDGs

(4) source : Galitt Conseil, ALD Automotive 2022  

(5) Clean Cities Campaign Report – July-2022 ( https://cleancitiescampaign.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/The-development-trends-of-low-emission-and-zero-emission-zones-in-Europe-1.pdf)

(6) source : Mobility Payments Blog (Dan Balaban), April 2022

(7) source : Mobility Payments Blog (Dan Balaban)

(8) cEMV : -contactless ticketing protocol specifications designed by EMVCo interoperable card schemes organization

(9) source: Visa Urban Study Survey, conducted among 11.550 adults by 14 markets in the world in May-2022

By: Guillaume Regnault (Global Product Manager, Open Payments, Worldline)
Originally published at: Worldline



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