UPDATED: U.S. Federal Government Awards Grants to Help Transit Agencies Roll Out Contactless Payments and Mobile Ticketing

Feb 18 2021

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – U.S. public transit agencies have been keen to remove cash and paper tickets from their buses and trains and to keep more distance between customers and agency staffers because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now they are getting a new boost from the U.S. federal government in the form of grant funds to enable them to enhance contactless and mobile payments systems, among other measures.

The Federal Transit Administration’s Public Transportation COVID-19 Research Demonstration Grant Program is distributing just under $15.8 million in funds for agencies in 35 states to push measures promising “innovative transit solutions” that address challenges transit agencies are facing with the pandemic. Much of the money is being used to help agencies improve vehicle and facility cleaning and disinfection and to track vehicle crowdedness for riders. But one focus of the grants is to promote “innovative” technologies, such as contactless fare payments. And a calculation by NFC Times shows that 17 transit agencies are receiving more than $5.6 million under the grant program to be used in all or part to enable contactless and mobile ticketing. 

The agencies will use the money to pay for hardware and software to enhance their touch-free payments services, including installing new validators on board buses that can accept open-loop bank cards and NFC wallets, along with closed-loop cards and to scan digital tickets on smartphones. There is also money to develop mobile apps and to buy such equipment as voice-activated ticket vending machines. The U.S. Federal Transit Administration, or FTA, part of the Department of Transportation, recently released details on the grant awards. 

This premium content is only available to subscribers.
Article has about 1580 words.

To Keep Reading, Subscribe Today

Get access to all premium content and the world’s first global newsletter devoted to the NFC and contactless markets by subscribing to NFC Times, the most authoritative source for news and analysis in the industry.

Subscription Options

HEADLINE NEWS

‘No Way We were Going to Ask for Half a Billion Dollars…’

Unlike other major transit agencies in the U.S., which have spent hundreds of millions of dollars replacing or upgrading their fare-collection systems, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has taken a different approach.

UK Bus Operator Go-Ahead Reports Cash Usage has Plummeted Because of Covid, While Contactless Transactions have Surged

The Go-Ahead Group, one of the big five privately owned public bus operators in the UK, said today it has seen cash usage on board the nearly 3,000 buses it runs in England outside of London fall to 23% of transactions, down from 53% three years ago.

Transit Operator Arriva Launches MaaS App in Netherlands; Hints at Expansion to Other European Countries

Arriva, one of the largest private transit operators in Europe, has launched a mobility-as-a-service app in the Netherlands, using white-label software from Israel-based trip-planning app provider

Cal-ITP: Agencies in California Could Hold ‘Several More’ Open-Loop Fare Payments Pilots

The California Integrated Travel Project, or Cal-ITP, is “on track to have at least several more” open-loop pilots or demonstration projects, a spokeswoman for the program told Mobility Payments.

Exclusive: Australia’s Transport for New South Wales Sees ‘Significant Increase’ in Use of Mobile Wallets by Riders

Mobile wallets now make up more than half of all contactless payments for Transport for New South Wales, Australia’s largest transit agency, the agency confirmed to Mobility Payments.

Start-Up Aims to Encourage More Taxi Drivers to Accept Bank Cards for Fares in Turkey

A Turkish start-up hopes to entice more taxi drivers to accept contactless credit and debit cards using SoftPOS terminals on Android smartphones, under a scheme being rolled out by the local fintec

Moscow Metro Launches Test of Facial Recognition Fare Payments Ahead of Rollout; Agency Says Masks Can Slow Verification

Moscow Metro announced that it is officially testing facial recognition-based fare payments at turnstiles, with plans to roll out the technology by the end of the year.

Major Transit Agency to Test Virtual Closed-Loop Cards with Google Pay

Aug 8 2021

Moscow Metro is launching a trial of a virtual version of its closed-loop Troika card that will be added to the Google Pay wallet, the agency announced Wednesday.

WMATA in D.C. Rolling Out New Terminals but has No Immediate Plans to Support Open Loop

The Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Area Transit Authority last month started to replace 1,200 aging fare gates for its 91-station metro system and starting next year will do the same with 20-plus year-old fareboxes on board 1,500 buses, including upgraded readers for its closed-loop SmarTrip cards.

Visa Touts Growth in Contactless, Continues to Push Open-Loop Payments

Visa reported this week that contactless payments continued to climb as a percentage of all face-to-face transactions with its brand, mainly at retail, and among the uses the network is continuing to push for contactless is to pay for transit fares.

MaaS Global CEO: Transit Agencies Should Not Control MaaS Platforms

Sampo Hietanen, founder and CEO of Finland-based MaaS Global, agrees with most other industry experts that public transit should form the “core” of the mobility services on offer in any MaaS app or platform. But he contends that it would be a mistake for the agency itself to control the platform.

Case Study: German City First to Go Live with Check-in/be-out System in Country

Despite the growing popularity of contactless, NFC and QR-code technologies for electronic fare-collection, some transit agencies are experimenting with other technologies to collect fares.