Six considerations for small to mid-sized agencies implementing automated fare collection

During this month’s APTAtech conference, Eric Reese, Vix Americas’ Managing Director, moderated a panel discussion on Automated Fare Collection for Small to Mid-Sized transit agencies.

Following on from participating in this panel discussion, we outline six key considerations for small and mid-sized transit agencies looking to implement AFC solutions.

1. What to integrate and what to replace

When thinking about AFC procurements, it’s important to consider existing vendor solutions and whether agencies intend to integrate those solutions or replace them. 

For example, agencies often choose to keep their existing fareboxes and implement additional forms of payment through a separate procurement. 

2. Collective power of regional partnerships

Agencies should consider leveraging regional partnerships to increase purchasing power and deliver a payment solution that supports riders across a region rather than just at a single transit agency. 

By combining resources and budgets, a regional transit collective can tap into the same AFC services and technology improvements used by large transit agencies.

3. Prioritize the must-haves

To ensure as many responses as possible from vendors and enable flexibility to choose the best solution, agencies should prioritize requirements (Mandatory vs. Nice-To-Have) and take care to define business requirements rather than specific technical requirements which may restrict vendor participation. 

For example, the business requirement that the solution be cloud-hosted and highly available is more desirable than the technology requirement to host a solution in the Microsoft Azure cloud.

4. Prepaid or pay-as-you go fares, or both?

Agencies today benefit from the innovations of account-based fare systems to enable a range of fare media options for riders including closed loop smart cards, open loop EMV payments, and mobile tickets (QR or NFC-based). 

In general AFC systems can support either prepaid passes (rider-activated, time-based mobile tickets) or Pay-as-you-go fares with automatic best fare calculation. 

Prepaid tickets are a good option for a low-cost, rapid mobile app launch, but pay-as-you-go offers security through electronic validation, and rider flexibility to get the same fares through capping across smart cards, EMV payments, and mobile tickets. 

That said, a strong AFC solution can support both models in parallel, if needed.

5. Use core AFC benefits to boost early adoption

Modern, proven AFC systems can be deployed and launched in a matter of months (compared to the years it took to deploy legacy card-based solutions). 

Specific integration to existing technology or branding of customer websites may require some design effort, but often the standardized core system can be launched quickly while additional custom features and functionality are rolled out in subsequent phases. 

This approach ensures riders get quick access to the benefits that new AFC systems provide and can support ongoing agency communications and marketing of new features to drive ridership growth over time. 

6. Keep riders moving with frictionless transitions

Another key consideration for deployment is the requirement to transition existing fare systems and any new service plans or compelling events that create timeline dependencies. 

Are riders going to need to get new cards or will there be a process to migrate fare products and card balance into the new system? Are there imminent new service launches that will require new fare validation devices (Bus Rapid Transit, Light Rail extension, etc.)? 

These are just a few areas for agencies to consider when planning for their next AFC solutions. Interested in learning more about Vix’s AFC offering? Contact us to find out more.

Vix Automated Fare Collection (AFC) solutions enable agencies and operators to deliver a streamlined ticketing experience to passengers, giving them access to the best value fares and the most convenient payment and token options for their journey.