Smart card data use in public transit: A literature review

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

technology - ticketing systems, ridership - demand, place - north america, operations - performance


Smart card, Fare collection, Transit planning, Public transportation, Transportation demand, Intelligent transportation systems


Smart card automated fare collection systems are being used more and more by public transit agencies. While their main purpose is to collect revenue, they also produce large quantities of very detailed data on onboard transactions. These data can be very useful to transit planners, from the day-to-day operation of the transit system to the strategic long-term planning of the network. This review covers several aspects of smart card data use in the public transit context. First, the technologies are presented: the hardware and information systems required to operate these tools; and privacy concerns and legal issues related to the dissemination of smart card data, data storage, and encryption are addressed. Then, the various uses of the data at three levels of management are described: strategic (long-term planning), tactical (service adjustments and network development), and operational (ridership statistics and performance indicators). Also reported are smart card commercialization experiments conducted all over the world. Finally, the most promising research avenues for smart card data in this field are presented; for example, comparison of planned and implemented schedules, systematic schedule adjustments, and the survival models applied to ridership.


Permission to publish this abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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