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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Conclusions and Future Research." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Considering the Unbanked in Cashless Fare Payment at Point of Service for Bus/Demand-Response Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26589.
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Page 71
Page 72
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Conclusions and Future Research." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Considering the Unbanked in Cashless Fare Payment at Point of Service for Bus/Demand-Response Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26589.
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Page 72
Page 73
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Conclusions and Future Research." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Considering the Unbanked in Cashless Fare Payment at Point of Service for Bus/Demand-Response Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26589.
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Page 73

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71   This chapter presents overarching conclusions and areas for future research. Conclusions Over the last decade, a handful of transit agencies in the United States have considered elimi- nating cash fare collection from buses. Although many bus rapid transit (BRT), light rail, and heavy rail operators require prepayment of fares before boarding vehicles, nearly all midsize and large local bus operators in the United States continue to accept cash on vehicles. Removing cash from buses has many potential benefits, including possibly improving operations, safety, and security. Despite this, fare collection on buses presents unique challenges because of the sheer number of bus stops distributed throughout large metropolitan areas with few, if any, stations or terminals where fare collection infrastructure can be easily installed and maintained. Even when new fare systems that rely primarily on personal devices and payment instruments such as smartphones and credit/debit cards are implemented, transit agencies recognize that they have diverse constituencies of riders, including those who prefer or need to pay with cash. Cashless systems can pose particular challenges for unbanked riders, who lack a checking or savings account at a bank or credit union. In light of this, the objective of this study was to inform transit agencies of the potential impacts of going cashless. The scope of this study focused primarily on bus operators and con- sidered various aspects of cashless fare systems, including operational aspects, advantages and drawbacks, policy and regulations, and considerations for certain populations of riders such as the unbanked. To meet this objective, a review of prior literature about cashless fare systems was conducted. Then, detailed case examples were written based on telephone interviews with staff from nine transit agencies. Based on the results of the literature review and case examples, ten key conclusions and emerging trends in the industry were identified. 1. Nascent idea: The concept of cashless is a nascent idea for American transit operators, and nearly all local bus operators at midsize and large metropolitan transit agencies in the United States continue to accept cash on board buses. 2. Terminology: The industry lacks standard terminology to describe cashless or cash-free fare collection systems. Some transit agencies prefer to say they accept cash, just not on board vehicles. 3. Convenient alternatives: One of the most critical elements in preparing for cashless fare collection systems is to provide convenient alternative options where customers can pay cash, including a robust retail sales network and ticket vending machines. C H A P T E R 5 Conclusions and Future Research

72 Considering the Unbanked in Cashless Fare Payment at Point of Service for Bus/Demand-Response Services 4. “One more trip” policy: Some new fare policies—particularly “one more trip” policies that allow a negative balance for one trip so customers have the opportunity to reload—are likely to be implemented by agencies with account-based fare systems who want to eliminate onboard cash fares. 5. Vehicle operators: A key motivating factor for removing cash on board is operator health, safety, and security. 6. Operational improvements: Many agency staff believe operational improvements are a potential advantage of removing cash from vehicles, but more research is needed to quantify these impacts. 7. Facilitating all-door boarding: Some agencies view removing cash fares from vehicles as a way to facilitate all-door boarding. 8. Unbanked: Transit agencies considering cashless fare collection want to understand how many riders are unbanked and how to meet their needs, as well as investigate what other populations may have specialized needs. 9. Title VI: Title VI fare equity analyses are likely to be needed as transit agencies plan for cashless fare systems, which could be viewed as a hurdle to implementation. 10. Outreach: Public outreach and communication are key parts of the planning process for cashless fare collection. The transit industry is slowly evolving, and the next few years will be an interesting time, as a few leading transit agencies deploy new fare systems and eliminate onboard cash payments on buses. This presents numerous interesting opportunities for future research. Future Research Several areas for future research about cashless fare collection systems have emerged from this study; these are summarized here. • Financial instrument question on rider surveys: It is common practice for transit agencies to conduct rider surveys to understand travel behavior and demographic trends. Some transit agencies have recently added questions to their surveys about technology use, such as smart- phone adoption. Few transit agencies ask about financial instruments and banking status, which would be helpful to understand how many riders are unbanked. Future research could be undertaken by adding this question to upcoming rider surveys: Which of the following do you have access to? Select all that apply: – credit card – debit card – prepaid card – checking account – savings account – other: _____ • Geographic analysis of fare sales channels: One key finding from this study was that a robust network of sales channels is likely needed to support a cashless fare system. As a first step to assess this, transit agencies should consider conducting geographic analyses of their existing fare sales channels. For example, how many retail sales locations and/or TVMs are within ¼ mile of bus routes? • Post-implementation study: Three transit agencies (RTA, the MBTA, and Big Blue Bus) are actively planning for, piloting, or implementing systemwide cashless fare systems. There will be unique opportunities to study the impacts of going cashless at these agencies. For example, before-and-after evaluations could be conducted to assess the impacts on dwell times, running times, and reliability levels. Similarly, before-and-after customer surveys could be conducted

Conclusions and Future Research 73   to assess satisfaction levels and travel behavior changes. Finally, analysis of ridership trends before and after implementation should also be performed. • Paratransit: One of the transit agency case examples (RTA) was in the process of implement- ing cashless fares on its paratransit system, but there may be other paratransit providers in the United States that have already implemented or are planning for cashless fare systems. Future research considering a larger number of paratransit providers and evaluating the unique aspects of paratransit fare procedures should therefore be conducted. • “One more trip” policy: A small number of transit agencies in the case examples intend to introduce “one more trip” policies, which let customers carry a negative balance for one trip so they have the opportunity to reload. This is a relatively new type of fare policy that presents interesting opportunities for future research. For example, how often do customers let their balance go negative? How does this impact churn of fare media?

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In recent years, many transit systems have been considering the benefits and challenges of moving to completely cashless fare payments and trying to find innovative solutions to help all their customers.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's TCRP Synthesis 163: Considering the Unbanked in Cashless Fare Payment at Point of Service for Bus/Demand-Response Services is designed to help inform transit systems of the impacts of going cashless. Several emerging trends are identified, including that transit agencies are seeking to understand how many riders are unbanked and how to meet their needs.

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