A new report by Juniper Research in the UK states that the smart phone is going to be the preferred method to pay for public transit in the next five years. The firm predicts that paying for all types of public transportation – from airline tickets to rail to metro – is going to triple by 2018.
Just as we have seen airlines adopt the barcode to handle boarding passes, it is expected that light rail and busing systems are going to do the same thing. And, airlines now use smart phone apps to sell lounge access, more leg room and sell rental cars, it seems logical that transit agencies in states and cities will do the same.
Also, as transit riders will already be on their phones, ticketing apps can provide updates on service, outages and different route options.
It is expected that a lot of mobile ticketing growth will be here in the US. Many transit agencies low on cash are slow to adopt the smartphone for ticketing.
However, a recent survey by Accenture in the US found that 4500 transit users in the US wanted to have paperless ticketing, social media updates and the ability to pay for various travels on smart phone. About 75% of respondents said that they would even pay a bit more if they could use a smartphone to buy a ticket.
Publicly funded transit agencies in the US are not really able to adapt to such changes quickly. At this point, many US metros use smart cards or magnetic swipe cards. It will take some time for them to adapt to smart phone ticketing.
But in Asia it has taken off, and about 70% of bus riders in Sweden pay by phone.
The report also found that text message ticketing will be highly popular in emerging markets, where there are not as many smart phones.
The smart phone is truly evolving – now non-desktop SEO is absolutely essential, and more changes are coming. It will be interesting to see how governments and transit agencies make the most of the mobile market!