The National Academies

TCRP Synthesis J-07/Topic SH-19 [Active (Synthesis)]

Considering the Unbanked in Cashless Fare Payment at Point of Service for Bus/Demand Response Services
[ TCRP J-07 (Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 5/24/2019 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Mariela Garcia-Colberg
Research Agency: University of Tennesse
Principal Investigator: Candace Brakewood
Fiscal Year: 2019

Final Scope

 Prepayment permits transit systems to increase efficiencies by decreasing operating costs, increasing farebox recovery, and reducing boarding times.  Nonetheless, cashless prepayment practices can pose challenges to riders who are “unbanked” or “underbanked” or who prefer to use cash.


This study will inform transit executives and board members on the effects of going cashless at point of service to the unbanked population’s access to public transportation. The study will focus on operational, financial, policy and regulatory considerations in no longer accepting cash on board bus or demand response vehicles.


            At a minimum the consultant should:

·         Review national and international transit systems that do not accept cash at the point of service

·         Assess the extent to which the industry has established complete cashless systems or is seriously considering such systems

·         Provide information about transit users currently using cash to pay for services

·         Identify the overarching policy and regulatory considerations that are involved in the adoption of cashless systems (e.g. ADA, Title VI, etc.)  

·         Document ways the transit agencies have or propose to accommodate the unbanked as they promote cashless fare systems


Information may be gathered in a number of ways including literature review, a survey on a broad range of transit agencies, interviews and case examples. This information will help decision makers understand the issues associated with the unbanked and eliminating cash payment at point of service.  The consultant should also identify gaps in information and areas for future research.

TRB Staff

Mariela Garcia-Colberg

phone  202/334-2361

email    mgarciacolberg@nas.edu


Meeting Dates

First Panel: October 3, 2019

Teleconference with Contractor: October 17, 2019

Second Panel: TBD


Topic Panel

Mallory R. Avis, City of Battle Creek Transit

Jeff Bernstein, New Jersey Transit

Nicholas Eull, Metro Transit (Minneapolis)

Cynthia W. Lister, Milligan & Co.

Brandon Policicchio, Greater Dayton RTA

Lynn Rivers, Arlington County (VA) Department of Environmental Services - Transportation Division

Marc Soto, IntelliRide/Transdev

Meinrad Tabengwa, Gadsden Transportation Services (GTS) City of Gadsden Department of Transportation

Murat Omay, Federal Transit Administration

Sheila Moore, Transportation Research Board


In recent years, the transit industry has been moving toward greater use of prepayment for fare collection using smart cards, mobile phones, and/or other media such as passes or tickets. To date, most if not all systems have retained the ability to accept cash at the point of service. However, many transit systems are considering the benefits and challenges of moving to complete cashless fare payments.  

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