German Transit Agency Plans to Complete Open-Loop Rollout on Buses and Trains This Quarter, Expand to Other Mobility Later

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – German transit agency SWB Bus and Bahn plans to fully roll out its contactless EMV fare payments service BONNsmart to its bus and train lines by the end of the first quarter, after launching a pilot last fall, confirmed a spokesman, who added that plans call for eventually expanding the contactless service to payments for parking and such micromobility modes as e-scooters.

Georg Bechthold, a project manager for the BONNsmart, involved mainly in marketing, said the transit operator planned to meet the rollout schedule despite the Covid-19 pandemic and “technical barriers,” that were making implementation more difficult. Bechthold spoke about the project at a recent Transport Ticketing Digital virtual conference.

SWB Bus and Bahn said its contactless launch made it the first transit agency to enable open-loop payments in Germany, a country known for its lack of fare gates and other barriers for public transit. Contactless ticketing would mainly replace paper tickets for SWB, which plans to equip 230 buses and nearly 100 trains to accept contactless EMV debit and credit cards and NFC-enabled card credentials on Apple Pay and Google Pay. The trial launched on only one bus line–the airport to Bonn city center line; and on one underground train line. Bechthold did not elaborate on the technical barriers making implementation of the service more difficult. 

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