Off-board travel payment systems

Prior payment off-vehicle for travel can be beneficial to passengers and to operators. The passenger can complete payment pre-boarding and possess a valid travel document to board the vehicle - this speeds up the boarding time, supports passage through the vehicle and avoids delays in transacting payment on board.

It also discharges the crew from fare collection on board, and removes the security risk of cash on the vehicle. If payment is made through an agency, the operator can be separated from all external and internal cash security issues – though he will have to pay commission in return.

Off-board travel payment systems also allow for service and transaction types that cannot be supported in the vehicle, typically because of the requirement for access to an external data-base or because of the complexity and duration of the transaction. These can include:

  • issue and/or personalization of smart-cards;
  • issue of periodic passes, including concessions;
  • adding applications or authorizations to an existing smart-card;
  • adding new fare products when these are introduced; and
    • accepting payment by credit or debit card.

To be successful and to encourage wide acceptance of off-board pre-payment, easy access should be available to the pre-payment locations with information on the fares and pre-payment processes that are clear, prominent and easy to understand.

The following practices have been identified:

  • Sales agency and reward
  • Point and method of ticket sale
  • Ticketing medium
  • Stored-value products

The types of stored value products, and their methods of use, include:

  • Magnetic-stripe cards
  • Memory cards
  • Smart cards
  • Other payment validation media
  • Value charging to media
  • Periodic passes