Skip to main content

Ticketing and payment systems in public transport have rapidly evolved in the last decades. With the (digital) integration of transport modes, free choice and safe payment has become key for offering seamless journeys: ticketing is no longer a simple part of the public transport experience but can be considered the gateway to freedom for all to move about.

While technology offers a variety of options to innovate ticketing and payment, the speed and steps taken by public transport operators depend on the performance of current solutions, investment strategies and, of course, passenger expectations.

One technology taking a central stage for the last decade is open loop payment. Open loop payment removes the ticket from a journey completely, as the payment card or mobile device becomes the ticket. The payment for the journey can either be realised during the trip, after completing the journey, or after all journeys taken that day, when the fare is calculated based on the actual use.

Transport for London (TfL) was first to offer open loop payment for buses in 2012. Since then, the system has been further developed and is now available across all TfL services. Inspired by the success and experience gained in London, open loop payment has now been implemented all around the world.

To demystify the landscape around open loop payment in public transport, the Urban Mobility Open Payments Forum has launched a new white paper diving deeper into the topic. The paper provides a comprehensive overview of open loop payment in public transport: what are the benefits, the challenges, how does it work, and what are the steps to take when wanting to implement open loop payment in the transport network? The publication also explains what parties are involved in open loop payment and what equipment is needed for integration.

The white paper is one of the first key outcomes of the Urban Mobility Open Payments Forum, an initiative launched in 2021 by UITP to advance adoption of open loop payment systems.

The Forum wants to facilitate a clearer framework for engaging in a more open dialogue at an international level on open loop payments in public transport. It provides a platform to all relevant stakeholders, including payment systems, industry partners, public transport operators and authorities. Alongside lead partner Visa, UITP is proud to already gather around the table industry players American Express, Scheidt & Bachmann, Thales, Flowbird, Indra, Google Pay, Fime and Switchio.

Overall, the Forum facilitates the exchange and dialogue on solutions and processes, raising awareness to make it easier and less costly for public transport organisations to implement open loop payment.