Not so long ago, London was seen as the most innovative transport network in the world as Transport for London had deployed the open loop concept on its entire network. The “open loop” or “account-based ticketing” concept consists in accepting bank-issued payment cards directly as a transport ticket on a mass transit network.
For years, many transport operators talked about open loop, but few of them had actually implemented it. The trend was started by small operators with relatively simple fare plans.
Then, a couple years ago, London decided to add the acceptance of contactless cards on its existing contactless payment infrastructure, which was already supporting the transport-dedicated Oyster cards. London has a high diversity in transport means, in operators with many bus and suburban train companies, and one of the most complex fare plans, combining flat rates with distance-based rates, discount periods, daily and monthly caps, etc.
For the operator the advantages of account based systems are obvious: open loop brings traffic fluidity associated with significant cost reductions as the operator no longer has to issue and manage its own fare media.
The London project has been developed as a collaboration between Cubic and TfL, from which Cubic has developed a product offer that can be adapted to the needs of many mass transit operators.
Just in a couple of weeks, we see open loop projects announced by operators such as National Express or Reading buses in the UK, but also in places as diverse as Singapore; Chicago, USA; Laval, Canada; Irkutsk, Russia; and Sydney, Australia.
Thanks to an efficient transformation of a one-shot project into a product, what was theoretical is now widely implemented around the world.