The term Mobility Payment Integration (MPI) refers to a wide variety of advances in fare collection. A transportation system with "full payment integration" would be one where users may combine multiple different modes of transportation—such as a rideshare trip, a bus trip, and an e-scooter rental—and pay for the entire journey at once, with a single transaction that is divided between the providers, which would include both public agencies and private transportation providers, behind the scenes. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) defines MPI as a multimodal transportation system that has some combination of: a common payment media across participating services, mobile applications integrated with the mobility providers, common payment accounts, and the use of incentives or co-marketing to build ridership.
Such a system does not currently exist; however, many transit agencies are taking the initial steps towards this vision by upgrading from simple fares and paper tickets to contactless smart cards or bank cards, mobile applications, transit ticketing accounts, and multimodal trip planners.
The FTA performed a state-of-the practice assessment to determine the progress of MPI in the United States. The assessment found that 34 locations have adopted at least some form of Automated Fare Collection (AFC) for their transit systems; of these, a total of 18 locations had advanced to some form of MPI. All of the locations identified as using AFC to offer mobile tickets or reloadable smart cards to pay for fares; 15 of the 34 locations offered a mobile app to manage travel accounts.
The report noted the benefits of mobile ticketing, including the ability for increased flexibility from the agency’s end in issuing incentives and refunds. However, agencies must first design and deploy such services. One interviewee noted in the report discussed the advantages of agencies implementing mobile ticketing and payment platforms, noting that mobile ticketing apps could be cost-effective and affordable even for small agencies.
- Care should be taken with the procurement process, as agencies must be clear with their needs and expectations for vendors. The assessment noted that software procurements are very different from conventional transit procurement, as it requires ongoing development and support. It recommended ensuring vendors were engaged under 5- to 10-year contracts that defined key performance benchmarks, service agreements, transaction estimates with upper and lower annual ranges, and clear cost parameters for transactions and support. It should emphasize customer-facing functionality and seamless updating to ensures smooth operation.
- Transit agencies seeking to upgrade MPI services should make use of the Public-Private Partnership (P3) principles of risk-sharing and incentivising continued quality performance. This includes due-diligence practices for ensuring that the selected integration team is financially stable. The assessment includes a detailed breakdown of several major agencies’ contracts with software/P3 procurements.
- Using third-party solutions instead of "in-house" apps allows agencies can avoid costly and complicated development time. Agencies that have developed their own apps are also responsible for ensuring that they remain updated and usable for many different operating systems and phone models, which can be challenging and expensive. Additionally, in-house apps are usually not as feature-rich as third-party solutions.
- Agencies should make their full range of services available on the app, to maximize the potential customer base and to make the app relevant and useful to as many users as possible. This does not significantly increase the required level of staff support, and poses a significant reduction in complexity for customers, who are able to have a consistent user experience.
(Our website has many links to other organizations. While we offer these electronic linkages for your convenience in accessing transportation-related information, please be aware that when you exit our website, the privacy and accessibility policies stated on our website may not be the same as that on other websites.)