An evaluation of the benefits of mobile fare payment technology from the user and operator perspectives

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - bus, technology - ticketing systems, technology - passenger information, planning - surveys


Public transit, Mobile payment technologies, Mobile ticketing, Mobile app, User acceptance, Survey


Recently, public transit systems have seen declining ridership levels in most American cities, and transit agencies are seeking strategies to counteract this negative trend. One emerging strategy uses mobile technologies for fare payment, which could improve the transit user experience and potentially attract or retain riders. However, there has been limited prior research evaluating the benefits of new mobile fare payment technologies after real-world deployment. Therefore, this research aims to evaluate emerging payment technologies from both the transit user and operator perspectives. Surveys of bus riders in Tallahassee, Florida were conducted before and after a two-month period in which a mobile fare payment application (“app”) was deployed throughout the bus system. Bus operators, who are responsible for fare validation, were also surveyed at the end of the study period. The results reveal that most app users reported spending less time purchasing a transit pass and less time boarding the bus, which could result in travel time savings from the user perspective. Despite these benefits, it was hypothesized that app users would increase the number of trips they made on transit; however, the user surveys provided limited evidence to support this. From the operator perspective, drivers reported spending less time collecting fares and observed that app users spent less time boarding the bus, which could lead to dwell time reductions after adoption levels increase. As transit users increasingly rely on mobile technologies, these findings are critical for transit agencies to justify initial deployment or expansion of mobile fare payment technologies.


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


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