Common Fare Payment: Obstacles and Opportunities in Crossing Institutional and Geographic Boundaries

Common fare payment systems have had a transformative impact on transit services in the US. The adoption of the Metrocard in the 1990s by the New York City Transit Authority and the Chicago Transit Authority (among others) demonstrated the robustness of this method, replacing the transit token. Since 2000 smart cards, such as the Clipper card in the San Francisco Bay region, have been adopted by multiple transit operators operating bus, heavy rail rapid transit, commuter rail, and light rail with a variety of fare structures and policies. More recently, applications that use mobile telephones have gained widespread acceptance in the US. Use of common fare payment systems is far from universal in the United States. While the use of common fare payment systems seems to make travel more convenient for passengers, there have been substantial barriers to the adoption of common fare payment systems. This synthesis will document the state of the practice and use of common fare payments, challenges to their adoption experienced in the US and how they have been overcome. This report will try to help transit agencies make informed choices by providing information on costs and benefits in adopting these systems. This synthesis will document, but not be limited to the following items: (1) Use-how fare revenues and administration costs are distributed across multiple units of government or operators; (2) Service policies- how universal fare cards been introduced to services; (3) Champions; (4) Data analysis- cost effectiveness; and (5) Challenges overcome, successes and opportunities This synthesis will explore these issues and document successful practice. A literature review, survey of selected transit agencies and/or other stakeholders, and detailed case examples/profiles will be accomplished to report on the state-of-practice, including lessons learned, challenges, and gaps in information. A draft further research needs statement might also be prepared.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $45000.00
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project J-07, Topic

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Synthesis

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Project Managers:

    Vlasak, Donna

  • Start Date: 20150609
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 39775

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01566086
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project J-07, Topic
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Jun 10 2015 1:01AM