About Smart Cards : Applications : Transportation

Transportation Applications

Smart cards are used worldwide in transportation applications, with millions of smart cards in use for both transit fare payment and parking fee payment.

Smart Card Alliance Transportation Resources

Smart Cards and Transit

Mass transit agencies worldwide have been using stored value prepaid cards for electronic ticketing since the 1970s. Through the late 1990s, this market steadily began transitioning from magnetic stripe technology to contactless smart cards. Today, virtually all transit fare payment systems use contactless smart cards as the primary ticket medium. Major deployments are already operational in cities around the world, including Hong Kong, Seoul, Pusan, Washington, D.C., and Shanghai.

Since the late 1990s, U.S. transit agencies have made significant investments in contactless smart card-based automatic fare collection (AFC) systems, with over $1 billion in contracts awarded for new systems that incorporate the latest developments in information technology (IT). Most of these systems use agency-branded contactless smart cards as the primary fare medium. Most major U.S. metropolitan areas now have closed-loop, stored value contactless smart card-based AFC systems including: Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Oakland; Los Angeles; Chicago; San Diego; Seattle; Minneapolis; Houston; Boston; Philadelphia; Atlanta; and the New York/New Jersey area.

In addition to these transit-specific fare payment systems, transit agencies in the U.S. are moving to open bank card payments for fare payment at the the point of entry to subways, trains and buses. Beginning in January 2009, the Utah Transit Authority implemented the first complete open bank card payment system for transit fare payment in the United States. Transit operators in the New York–New Jersey region (MTA New York City Transit, Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH) and New Jersey Transit) collaborated on a pilot to test the concept of open payments on two subway lines, several connecting bus routes in New York, and bus routes and connecting service to the PATH system in New Jersey. Currently, transit agencies in numerous locations, including Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, DC, Dallas, and Toronto are actively pursuing open payment solutions.

Additional detail on transit use of smart cards can be found in the Smart Card Alliance white paper Transit and Contactless Open Payments: An Emerging Approach for Fare Collection and on the Transit Open Payments Resources web page.

North AmericanTransit Smart Card Projects and Implementations

The following are active transit smart card implementations in the U.S. and Canada:

In addition, several transit agencies are in active procurements for open payment systems that accept contactless bank cards. These include:

International Transit Smart Card Projects and Implementations

Selected active international transit smart card implementations are listed below.

Smart Cards and Parking

The use of contact smart card technology is well established in the parking market, with parking equipment vendors providing solutions for all segments: single-space meters, multi-space meters, and off-street parking.

In addition to contact smart card-based programs, transit agencies using contactless smart cards for fare payment are expanding the use of the card to pay for parking. Active programs in the U.S. include: WMATA SmarTrip; Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO), operating in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA).

Additional information about the use of smart cards for parking can be found in the Smart Card Alliance report Smart Cards and Parking.

Other Transportation Resources