How mobile mobility platforms can get riders back on public transit and save costs for transit agencies

With public transit badly hit by the continuing COVID-19 crisis, transit agencies facing a real challenge getting riders back onto public transit. It is even more important for transit agencies to look at saving costs whilst increasing their service to customers. Mobile mobility platforms, such as the one Unwire offers, are key to taking this forward.

A survey in North America in 2019 found that only 39% of service providers even have a mobile app yet more than a quarter of US service providers say rising costs are their biggest challenge.

Recovering and increasing ridership on public transit after COVID-19

Restoring ridership levels will mean transit agencies will need to appeal to their customers with new, convenient solutions offering healthier methods of payment (contactless payment solutions). The solutions need to make the lives of riders easier and less stressful.

As our platform offers fare collection directly through the app, using either a credit card and alternative payment methods (APMs), this also makes using the service easier for riders. The survey mentioned above found that only 37% of transit providers in the US offer the opportunity to use APMs.

Before COVID-19, transit ridership in the US was increasing, especially amongst urban professionals and millennials, a group of people for whom digital solutions are the norm.
Interest in public transit increases when it is easier for users to plan and pay for their journeys on a mobile platform which also offers an aggregation of additional services for first/last mile such as micro-transit, bike share, and e-scooters, as well as seeing the full choice of options for their entire journey all in one app.

Cost savings on ticket sales

Findings from a number of transit agencies, including our partners at Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), have shown that there is a tangible cost reduction to the agencies when a mobile ticketing platform is introduced.

A 2011 survey of transit agencies by T-Flex (Transit Financial Learning Exchange) found traditional cash collections systems have a cost range of around 13-15% when you take into account the whole process from the farebox to the final processing of the cash collections.

Once you have separated the upfront costs of setting up a mobile ticketing platform there are fewer costs associated with fare collection through an app. The combined cost to the agency could be half that of cash collections and even more if they are successful in shifting a group of riders such as students or corporate employees to multi-month pass products.

Savings on expensive call centres

Call centre use in many public transit agencies is largely associated with trip planning requests and questions about fares. A well designed trip planning tool, integrated into a mobile ticketing platform, will significantly reduce the call centre costs to the agency. Between 2010-2018 DART experienced a reduction of nearly one million calls annually due to the shift to digital alternatives available to riders.

The aggregation of micro-transit and paratransit within the platform allows specific users to book and pay directly through the app rather than relying on expensive call centres, thus making another saving for the agency at the same time improving the service and convenience for users.

Reducing the need for ticket vending machines (TVMs)

Introducing a mobility ticketing platform means that agencies can reduce or eliminate the need to provide ticket vending machines (TVM).
DART found that once they introduced a mobile app there was a clear reduction in the TVM transactions as well as farebox collections as the use of mobile ticketing increased. This was a cost benefit to DART as it reduced the service requirements for both TVMs and fareboxes and higher cost credit card processing fees at the TVMs.

A greater cost benefit can be seen when agencies remove TVMs and fareboxes from use completely and avoiding adding new equipment. The cost benefits continue to improve as utilisation of mobile ticketing becomes a higher percentage of all transactions processed.

About a quarter of both national operators and large transit organisations, that responded to the survey* said that implementing mobile technology is their biggest challenge.

This doesnt have to be the case.

Unwire’s mobile mobility platform is a white label solution and any transit agency large or small can get up and running rapidly with no need for huge implementation projects and without any large upfront investments.
If your agency wants to increase ridership, offer convenient journey planning and fare collection to users as well as great agency service cost savings, please contact us today for a free live demo of our mobile mobility platform to see how it can work for you.

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