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February 2020

 

5 - 7 Minutes

How cities can help solve climate change with seamless public transport

Cities around the globe have been labelled as the biggest cause of climate change – yet they can be a key part of the solution by reducing harmful greenhouse gases, according to the UN.

Already, half of the world’s population lives in cities and overstretched planners struggle to address the needs of record numbers of urban dwellers, which is set to grow by a further 2 billion by 20501.

Moving these people from A to B as efficiently and sustainably as possible is an urgent challenge. And residents are demanding modern transportation systems that help them get around more easily, quickly, and safely in a way that is cleaner and greener.

In major cities around the world, 27% of consumers say they would use more public transport if it was improved, according to a recent white paper by Visa: Digital Payments for Urban Mobility: Helping Cities Become Greener and More Connected.

The answer is a system that integrates public and private, owned and shared transportation to create a seamless journey from door to door.

Known as “Mobility as a Service” (MaaS), this solution makes it faster and simpler for people to plan and embark on their journey.

Mobile-based MaaS solutions aim to help encourage people to use public and greener forms of transport by providing real-time information about traffic, availability and journey times. As an attractive alternative to cars, it can potentially lower carbon emissions from transport which are currently on track to double by 20502.

Snapshot of contactless transit adoption around the world across 180+ locations as of February 2020. Source: Visa

Contactless travel, which is live in 180+ locations worldwide, plays a key role with cities recognising the benefits of improved customer experience, greater numbers of travellers, and reduced costs, leading to more efficient and sustainable operations.

When passengers no longer have to buy individual tickets, evidence points to greater use of public transport and other, more carbon-efficient, methods of transport like bike- and scooter-sharing.

Currently there are 43 Urban Mobility Solutions projects live across Europe including the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Poland, and Spain, with 52 more in the pipeline.

Transport for London (TfL) was an early adopter of tap-to-pay technology and is a prime example of how changing consumer behaviour has a positive cumulative effect. TfL added 1 billion contactless journeys within 5 months3 – and now contactless accounts for 60% of all pay-as-you-go use on their network.

Shashi Verma, Chief Technology Officer, TfL, said: “We came to the very simple realisation that nobody wants to buy a ticket, and actually, we don’t want to sell them one, either. If you could find a means of making that very simple business process work more efficiently that would be the right thing.”

In what is known as an open loop system, customers can pay for transport with cards or mobile devices rather than a weekly ticket. Implementing an open loop system needs investment from city governments and planners in the technology and infrastructure required to make the journey as smooth as possible.

A contactless system on diesel buses resulted in 20% less emissions than a cash payment system, according to a study carried out by an international group of researchers on a typical diesel bus system in Dalian, China. It concluded that “the use of contactless card payment will considerably reduce emissions.”4

The data generated by card payments can also help transport planners spot peak travel times and trends in usage of public transport more effectively. This in turn helps them plan more effective routes and timings.

With 50 megacities (with populations of over 10 million) predicted by 2050, creating a more sustainable transport system will be critical.

 

Five key takeaways for cities:

  1. Create a seamless payment experience. Customer experience needs to be front and centre as travellers will either be used to paying by contactless in their daily lives or be quick to adopt it for frictionless and efficient travel.
  2. Design with all members of society in mind. Senior citizens, disabled riders, and the un- or underbanked should all be able to access the transport ecosystem seamlessly.
  3. Encourage connectivity and collaboration. Travellers are mixing their forms of transport more and more, across different geographies, and payments need to be streamlined by using digital terminals.
  4. Develop strategic partnerships to drive insights. Companies that specialise in AI, big data and other new technologies can help cities analyse changes in consumption and increase effectiveness.
  5. Require and invest in technology upgrades. A robust and flexible data infrastructure should ensure that information about transit journeys will help inform planners about levels of demand and patterns of movement, enabling them to make all journeys smoother.

 

Visa is working with partners globally on the concept of “urban mobility,” or using technology to drive efficiencies in cities to make it easier and faster for people to get around. This is the topic of our white paper, “Digital Payments for Urban Mobility: Helping Cities Become Greener and More Connected”. Download it here to learn more about this work.

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