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Indian Commuters Demand Integrated Fare Payments for Public Transit

India’s public transit systems must evolve to provide integrated fare payment options that cater to the diverse needs of commuters, says a report by Koan Advisory Group. The study emphasises the growing preference for debit/credit cards and digital solutions among commuters.

Koan Advisory Group, a New Delhi-based public policy consulting firm, has released a new report titled Transit Payments in India – A Case for Choice and Interoperability, which sheds light on the pressing need for  end-to-end payment interoperability for commuters.

The report, based on a survey encompassing 1,250 commuters across over 60 locations in four major metro cities, delves into the challenges faced by commuters when paying for public transit as well as the factors influencing their preferences for different payment modes.

Key findings:
Multi-modal transit use

Over 90 per cent of respondents use various transit modes for their journeys, highlighting the need for flexible fare payment options.

Preference for debit/credit cards

Two-thirds of respondents prefer using debit/credit cards for transit payments, foreseeing time savings by eliminating the need to purchase and recharge prepaid cards.

Influence of incentives

Sixty-six per cent of commuters consider incentives such as cashback offers, discounts, and brand rewards when choosing their payment method.

Demand for interoperability

Three-quarters of commuters also favour having multiple payment options for transit fares, emphasising the importance of interoperable payment modes to cater to diverse needs.

Ateesh Nandi at Koan Advisory Group says. “Our study clearly shows that commuters are looking for choice and interoperability in payment methods, with a growing preference for debit/credit cards and digital solutions. India’s public transit systems must evolve to provide integrated fare payment options that cater to the diverse needs of commuters.

Further findings

The report predicts a shift towards a preference for debit/credit card usage in public transit, alongside a reduction in reliance on cash and prepaid transit cards. This trend aligns with the broader shift towards cashless payments and the potential benefits of data-driven integrated fare management systems.

It also addresses the Union government’s One-Nation, One Card initiative. It highlights that this initiative, which prioritises offline payments at transit turnstiles, does not fully address commuters’ needs for inclusive and interoperable transit payment systems. The legacy issues with closed-loop prepaid transit cards remain unresolved.

Additionally, the Koan study underlines the significance of account-based ticketing systems, which seamlessly connect to users’ bank accounts through methods such as mobile ticketing or debit/credit cards. These systems empower the development of unified fare management solutions across various modes of transportation, a critical requirement in India’s diverse and fragmented public transit landscape.

“To address the challenges of India’s fragmented transit landscape, it is essential to prioritise account-based ticketing systems that connect seamlessly with users’ bank accounts,” Nandi also commented. “This approach will not only enhance convenience for commuters but also pave the way for a more inclusive and modernised public transit system in India.”

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