How Singapore eases city traffic with contactless payments
Taking public transportation in Singapore is a different experience than most cities around the world.
Recognized for its smart-city achievements, its one of the early adopters of contactless payment technology, allowing people to tap their bank cards to pay fares.
Such an open-loop system applied in public transport allows for more ease for commuters and alleviates the hassle of buying tickets, especially for visitors, according to Mastercard’s executive vice president for enterprise partnerships Hany Fam. “The old model is cash and going to machines to buy metro tickets,” he said. “What we found is that people who don’t know their way around local transport choose to use taxis, causing more congestion.”
Having global standards paves the way for more efficiency and inclusion, claims Mastercard that has been working with governments, NGOs and other leaders in urban innovation.
Other smart city technologies in Singapore are being used to better manage traffic in the coming years, such as introducing onboard units on vehicles in 2020 to electronically pay for tolls and parking. For buses, wait times for busy routes have decreased by 3 to 7 minutes as sensors have been able to deliver more accurate arrival timings.
London is another city that has adopted contactless payment that might soon replace its iconic Oyster card.
The results were an increase in metro passengers and reduced costs. London’s transport authority TfL revealed that 12 million journeys per week have been contactless, accounting to 40 percent of all trips paid for. It welcomed the open loop system as it simplified access to public transit for residents and millions of tourists in addition to cutting cost of fare collection from 14 to 9 percent. Meanwhile, Oyster card purchases are witnessing a 10 percent drop.
“It takes time to teach people to use something new when it’s easier to reach them on whatever they’re already using, such as their bank cards in their pocket,” said Fam. “Some cities introduced apps but they’re more difficult to get people to a new platform when it’s more convenient to use existing ones such as social media or even texting. This also encourages tourists to visit again.”
Other cities are moving towards cashless societies. Nordic countries came up with a strategy to eradicate cards. In Paris, taxis are obliged to accept cards from passengers.
Transportation is one of numerous global challenges cities face. Other needs that have the potential to be addressed in a standardized way include urban planning, infrastructure, safety, waste management, water, food, housing, and unemployment, among others.
However, there hasn’t been one city in the world that has been able to achieve a successful smart city, further said Fam. “40 percent of the world are cities and that number will grow to 70 percent by 2030 and not a single city is ready to deal with this urbanization. Many governments have fallen prey to create something different when they should invest in developing existing infrastructure to make it more efficient,” he added.
Using data effectively helps to identify cities’ needs before coming up with solutions, according to Miguel Gamino Jr, Mastercard’s executive vice president of global cities who forms public-private-partnerships to help find solutions to common challenges in cities.
“There isn’t one city that has it all figured out. There are some that are better in certain areas than others. That’s the value of getting cities to share their experiences. Cities that have tremendous progress in one area share with each other and only then will they begin to lift each other up. So the pace of progress significantly increases,” he said.
“Cities like Singapore, Dubai, New York are beginning to build comprehensive strategies for how technology can increase the access in equity, inclusiveness and opportunities presented.”