The past, present & future of automated fare collection

Fare collection has been a core part of transportation throughout history. 

However, as transportation has evolved, so has the way operators handle fare collection. Today, many operators have implemented automated fare collection as part of a modern, digital transit system. 

But how were fares collected in the past? How has automated fare collection evolved, and what could we potentially see in the future of the transportation industry?

Read on to find out more.

Why are traditional methods of fare collection inefficient?

Despite always being a core component in travel, fare collection in the past – compared to what it is today – can be looked at as a fairly inefficient process.

Purchasing a fare and completing a journey sounds simple, but if using an outdated form of fare collection, this could see a less satisfying experience for transit agencies and operators, and riders.

For example, riders would need to purchase their tickets manually with cash or card at a ticket machine, or from behind the counter at a station. This can often be time-consuming, as passengers might need to join lengthy queues.

Also, with fares being paid in physical cash, the money needs to be processed and transported before it can be fully validated. This can cause delays in revenue data, and also end up being more costly.

These are just a few of the many reasons why fare collection in the past is no match for the superior automated systems we have today.

How has automated fare collection evolved in the present?

Automated fare collection (AFC) is an advanced system that has significantly evolved transportation agencies.

Fare collection and management software allows the collection, monitoring, and adjustment of fares with more efficiency, through a swift and accessible digital platform.

As opposed to needing physical cash transactions, this cloud-native system lets riders pay for their fares digitally, using a range of payment methods – such as Apple Pay or other smart cards.

There are several unique benefits to using AFC, including:

  • Seamless travel process

AFC offers a more streamlined flow of payments and journey for riders. Without the need for cash, riders can choose their fare option digitally, make a payment, and have instant access to their ticket.

There’s no need for queues at ticket machines, as riders can purchase tickets on the go and board the transport efficiently.

This also means faster payment processing and validation for transit agencies and operators, where the transactions are completed over secure cloud-native software.

  • Sleek and intelligent devices

The system uses sleek and elegant devices to collect fares and allow passengers aboard the service. These devices can be attached to poles, mounted in vehicles, or placed on a platform in the station, for example.

This gives the freedom and flexibility to have devices positioned in the most convenient spot for riders, so they have more ease and accessibility when travelling.

What’s next for the future?

There are already so many benefits that come with using AFC, and the strides it’s made in the transportation industry have been huge.

In the future, pay-as-you-go systems using contactless payments are likely to be adopted more widely for the ease and convenience they offer to riders.

Fare collection technology is also seeing a shift from card-based ticketing (where information about the fare is stored on a smartcard or other token) to account-based ticketing where this information is instead stored in the back-office system, allowing for the introduction of more personalized fare options such as loyalty schemes.

To stay ahead of the curve, make sure you choose AFC software and hardware from a provider that’s up-to-date with the latest developments.

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