In collaboration with Visa, Caltrans, Cybersource, Littlepay, and SC Soft; Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) has become the first transit agency in California to offer bus riders a contactless payment option. As cities begin to reopen, public transportation will play a critical role in recovery, and contactless payments can help provide a safe and easy experience for riders and transit operators seeking limited physical touchpoints and interactions. MST riders can now simply tap their contactless credit, debit, prepaid card or payment-enabled device on readers in MST buses for an easy and secure way to travel, without needing to purchase or load a separate transit card or handle cash while boarding.
Visa research shows that enabling tap to pay on transit systems like these can be good for economic recovery, bringing more than a 15% lift in transactions from merchants in surrounding neighbourhoods. MST is the fifth transit agency in the US to accept tap to pay for fares, following Chicago, Miami, New York and Portland, OR. MST is also the first public transit system in the country that is located outside of a large urban area to introduce tap to pay fares – demonstrating contactless payments as a good fit for any size agency looking to enhance the customer experience.
“Visa recognises the importance of expanding eligibility and access to fare payment options that meet the needs of a diverse set of transit riders,” said Brian Cole, SVP and head of North America product, Visa. “This effort with MST and Caltrans illustrates how open, contactless payments can support innovative and equitable fare policies to benefit riders and transit operators across the state.”
MST riders who tap will benefit from “fare capping” ensuring riders won’t pay more than $10.00 per day—as long as they pay with the same card or mobile wallet throughout the day. The tap to pay option on MST’s entire bus fleet is the first contactless payment demonstration of the California Integrated Travel Project (Cal-ITP), a Caltrans-led initiative to make travel simpler and more cost-effective for the 40 million California residents, served by 300-plus transit agencies, who collectively take approximately 1.3 billion passenger trips annually.
“We are committed to serving all of our riders and delivering new methods of ease and convenience,” said Carl Sedoryk, general manager and CEO, Monterey-Salinas Transit. “The availability of a contactless fare payment system means increased flexibility, and we are thrilled to be collaborating with Visa and Caltrans to bring the enhanced convenience and safety benefits of tap to pay to our community.”
Bringing the MST Demonstration to Life
Cybersource, a Visa solution, Littlepay, a transit-focused payments platform, and SC Soft, a transit ticketing and Automated Fare Collection specialist, have been critical in bringing the MST demonstration to life. Cybersource’s platform is powering the fast-to-market deployment of contactless solutions in the mass transit space, providing a full suite of payment and fraud management tools and an extensive network of partners and acquirers. Cybersource offers brand-agnostic transit compliant processing solutions and enables easier implementation of digital payments for operators while helping protect against fraud. Littlepay provides mass transit transaction processing, including the ability to cap fares and guarantee the best-value fare for frequent riders. SC Soft is a system integrator specialising in ticketing and Automated Fare Collection solutions for transit agencies around the world.
“Cybersource looks forward to supporting Cal-ITP partners to improve transit access within communities throughout the state,” said Fernando Souza, Vice President, Cybersource. “There is a great sense of urgency among transit operators to adopt these solutions and we are committed to powering secure, seamless contactless solutions in a world where no contact, touchless experiences are here to stay.”
“Removing barriers to transit ridership underscores what Cal-ITP is all about, and the launch of this contactless payment demonstration represents a significant step toward a simpler and more equitable public transit system throughout California,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin.
The adoption of contactless payments continues to grow in the US as more consumers realise they can pay for the things they need with a simple and secure tap. In the US, one in ten face to face Visa transactions are now done with a tap, more than a 2x increase since the beginning of the pandemic, showcasing increased consumer preference for fast, touch-free payment experiences.