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  • Thierry Spanjaard

Open payment expands from transport to city services

Open payment, or in other terms the fact a contactless payment card is directly used as a fare media in public transport, brings a solution to several issues at a time: it brings an efficient way for visitors to rapidly and efficiently access a mass transit network, it solves interoperability issues, and, as there are less single-trip tickets to be issued, it reduces the operation cost of a transport network.

Developers of open payment in Dijon, France, have discovered another effect they did not anticipate: an increase in passenger traffic aboard public transport. Developers of the system are surprised to see it adopted ten times faster than they anticipated. This increase is a combination of fraud reduction and an actual increase in public transport usage by tourists, occasional travelers, regular passengers who have forgotten their ticket, and local residents alike. The open payment system, which was developed having in mind the need of visitors to the city is now adopted by numerous local residents, who no longer see any reason to buy single trip tickets while they can use their banking card.

The system developed in Dijon by Dijon Métropole, Keolis, the Caisse d'Epargne de Bourgogne Franche-Comté, Visa and Worldline, implements the specifities of the local fare plan: it allows transfers between lines, one-hour transport for each ticket and charging unit is the single trip ticket value but users’ maximum expense is capped at the value of three tickets each day.

The open payment system is already operational on the two tram lines in Dijon, and it will soon be extended to the full network, including 200 buses. Then, local authorities consider using the same open payment platform to allow users to benefit from all city services.

A side effect of the adoption of open payment in Dijon is a significant reduction in terms of single trip ticket sales. If this trend is confirmed, this could lead to a complete revamping of the whole fare payment and collection system for public transport in the city. Coupled with the extension to city services, this will ultimately lead to adopting direct banking card payment for most city services.

When talking about Open Payment systems for mass transit, everyone has in mind the success of TfL, Transport for London, launched in 2012 ago, which is now used by more than 1.5 million passengers every day! Will mid-sized cities reach the same level of adoption as London metropolis? The other way round, we may also wonder if the open fare payment in London will ultimately have the same transformational effects as in a mid-sized city.

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