How Open Payment can help public transport authorities to fight against climate change

Open Payments TransportationIn the midst of all the efforts required from individuals and societal actors, one crucial aspect of combating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions involves a radical shift in our transportation habits. Undoubtedly, the climate emergency is the most significant challenge of our generation. In Europe, transport is indeed the activity that generates the most GHG emissions: far beyond manufacturing industries, coal energy or any other business activities (1). 

Already in 2015, the United Nations were quoting “transport systems” as a priority in their Sustainable Development Goals agenda: by 2030, Local and Regional Governments (LRGs) will have to provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all (…) notably by increasing the public transport trips by 50% (3). If we are far from this target objective of 50% increase today in 2023, the shift for more public transport use and adoption is now definitely triggered and will be fostered by all means by the public authorities in the next few years. 

Expanding public transportation infrastructure and services in peri-urban and suburban areas, as well as re-evaluating our approach to mobility within town centers and urban areas, is vital. For instance, a recent study conducted by Galitt Conseil and ALD Automotive revealed that approximately 50% of urban travel journeys span less than 5 kilometers (4). This statistic highlights the significant potential for introducing new forms of sustainable transportation, such as bike-sharing or e-scooter services, alongside improving access to existing public transportation options, particularly in densely populated and intricate urban areas. Furthermore, the anticipated proliferation of low emission zones (LEZ) (5) in major metropolitan areas across the EU in the coming years will further underscore the demand for reliable and efficient sustainable mobility alternatives. 

Promoting the adoption of electrified transportation offers cities a straightforward approach to enhance sustainability, as it contributes to improved air quality, reduced emissions, and decreased noise levels. The technology for electrifying rail, buses, cars, and trucks already exists, but a major challenge for cities lies in upgrading regional electrical grids to meet the growing demand for power in the transportation sector. Additionally, the expansion of charging infrastructure is necessary to support the widespread use of electric vehicles. 

Worldline perceives that the payment revolution brought by the digital UX change would progressively touch every economy vertical branches, and not only the retail one. The Open Payment service (where the banking card replaces the paper ticket) is already a strong adoption success  within the urban transports : more than 500 projects launched in the world by transit agencies according to Visa (6). Where it is launched, the strong ramp-up and penetration rate of EMV contactless TAPs volumes comparing to legacy ticketing systems shows that it fits perfectly with the on-going digital payment revolution trend : travel payment must be fast, frictionless, transparent, with a safe universal access media that could be a banking card or its emulation into a payment wallet. 

When we talk about open payments, travelling commuters expectations get generally higher than operators initial thoughts, and the level of adoption is generally larger than what the public transport authorities and organisation foresee: for instance, the open payment travels now done through mobile phones or wearables within the New York city transit agency (NYCTA) weight already higher than 60% of the overall (7)! 

If they don’t want to stay laggards and embrace efficiently their customer travelers expectations, public transport operators (PTOs) now have to support cEMV (8) on top of their legacy closed-loop ticketing systems, and review their overall tickets distribution channel costs mix. Open Payment offers indeed smooth, easy, smart, transparent access to the public transport networks for all., the follow up is made easy with real-time spending simulation on access. The benefits of this technology is also more inclusive as it is available for all types of travel populations (casual or not), and it is by far easier to use for the town’s new visitors, disabled and illiterate people. Thanks to capping rules principle aligned with ticketing, Open Payment moreover guarantees the best value fare for travelers whatever their travel pace or frequency. It will for sure also support concessionary fares in a future vision. 

In a post-COVID crisis world where Work From Home (WFH) and hybrid working is overhauling people habits and generates less regular and predictable commuting patterns for PTOs, Open Payment and cEMV can become the way for them to secure and increase their revenue streams. To fight against the strong drop of their season tickets subscriptions, they have to provide smooth and flexible access to their network, and Open Payment enables it. 

If PTOs want to convince the even more single drivers to leave their car at home or at the parking and use public transports instead, they need also to challenge time travel, safety, cleanliness and convenience brought by the private car experience. And this is not so simple. 

Open Payment can contribute to the improved time travel and convenience expected (time and concern for finding a parking place is always underestimated by the car drivers). But for this, the travel authorities have to put all their strengths into the battle, and put the stress on increasing awareness around carbon-footprint vehicles drawbacks (e.g. petrol price) and the city space occupied by cars (even electro ones) or two wheelers. 

The feedback from populations where it is already launched, is that Open Payment is casual, seamless and foreign traveler visitors adopt this new way of move very quickly. We can prove that Open Payment fosters the transport modal shift, by enlarging the total number of journey units for the public transport organisation that deploys it. The bus drivers also especially appreciate Open Payment, because they can really focus on their driving role and limit dispute remarks from travelling users when they validate their tickets (and at the end of the day, it is more commercial speed for the operator). 

The expectations of end-user travellers are high: in a recent study by VISA Inc. in 14 countries and towards 11.550 adults, 32% of polled people consider contactless payment access as the first element that would encourage them to use more public transport (9). 

By embracing the necessary shift to sustainability, organisations can actively contribute to the collective effort of combating the effects of global warming and fostering a more environmentally responsible future for generations to come. 


This article has been republished with permission from Worldline.  

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(1) source: IEA report, 2020. 29% of the CO2 emissions within EU countries come from the transports activities 

(2) source:; Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 SDGs was adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York by the member states in September 2015 

(3) UITP (Union Internationale des Transports Publics) Report May 2019: Mobility and the SDGs 

(4) source : Galitt Conseil, ALD Automotive 2022 

(5) Clean Cities Campaign Report – July-2022 ( 

(6) source: Mobility Payments Blog (Dan Balaban), April 2022 

(7) source: Mobility Payments Blog (Dan Balaban) 

(8) cEMV: -contactless ticketing protocol specifications designed by EMVCo interoperable card schemes organization 

(9) source: Visa Urban Study Survey, conducted among 11.550 adults by 14 markets in the world in May-2022 

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.