Potential Uses of Electronic Fare Payment Records for Public Transit Agencies

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - signage/information, mode - bus


Spreadsheets, Smart cards, Ridership, Performance, Patronage (Transit ridership), Istanbul (Turkey), Integrated circuit cards, Information systems, Information processing, Databases, Data processing, Contactless fare cards, Chip cards, Case studies, Bus usage, Bus travel, Bus transit operations, Automatic fare collection


Performance analysis of transit systems requires extensive information. This article describes a new way of using fare data to extract ridership and operations information to better manage and operate transit systems. An electronic fare payment system widely used in major transit systems, including the bus transit system in Istanbul, Turkey, was used to demonstrate the method. The system uses technology in which information is transferred between the passenger's "button" (similar to a smart card) and a computer unit mounted on the bus. Each transaction record contains information such as user identification, fare category, payment amount, credit left, route number, bus identification, date and time of day. Information from these transaction records is transferred to a central database daily. The authors gained access to this information and used a combination of manual data processing, a common spreadsheet program and a Structured Query Language server to gather useful information on ridership, bus fleet utilization, passenger trip features and timetable efficiency. This methodology can also be used with other electronic fare payment technologies and can generate information for other applications.