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As transit agencies modernize their fare payment systems, opportunities to pay with cash are reduced. This speeds boarding and lowers the cost of operations while also creating new sources of ridership data. Arguably, service is improved for riders as well as payment systems could work across modes, creating a more seamless and simplified experience. Still, about 15% of adults in the United States are without a bank account or credit card account and many rely on restrictive cell-phone data plans or don’t have access to a smartphone. These shares are even higher for public transit users. These un- and under-banked and digitally excluded riders will find it more difficult to conveniently pay their transit fares. This project asks: what steps can be taken to ensure universal access to emerging fare payment systems? This project is exploring and evaluating practices to address these equity issues in cashless fare payment systems. This presentation will discuss the results of the first phases of the project, specifically our three-city survey of transit riders and our cost-benefit framework being developed to evaluate the effectiveness of proposed equity practices.

Biographical Information

John MacArthur, Sustainable Transportation Program Manager, Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC)

John MacArthur is the Principal Investigator for TREC's electric bicycle research initiatives. His research also includes low-/no-emission vehicle infrastructure in Portland metro, as well as a climate change impact assessment for surface transportation in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Before joining the TREC staff, John was the Context Sensitive and Sustainable Solutions Program Manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation’s OTIA III State Bridge Delivery Program.

Aaron Golub, Portland State University

Aaron Golub is an associate professor in the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University (PSU), moving to PSU after eight years at Arizona State University and ten years studying and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. His work focuses on the social contexts of urban transportation systems, explored in three ways: 1. the effects on social equity of current transportation planning practices – how people participate in planning, and who wins and loses from transportation plans, 2. planning, research and advocacy in support of alternatives to the automobile (especially public transportation and bicycles), and 3. the historical roots of automobile dependence in the United States. At PSU, Dr. Golub teaches courses on urban transportation policy, planning research methods, transportation finance and public transportation.


Local transit -- Fares -- Automation, Smart cities, Transportation -- Planning, Local transit accessibility, Poor -- Transportation -- United States


Transportation | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning

Persistent Identifier

Understanding Technology-Based Exclusion in Emerging Smart Mobility Systems



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