Insights 12 March 2019 By: Madeleine Funes

Beyond Personal Vehicles & Driverless Cars: Obstacles to Mass Transit Ridership in the US 

Although major obstacles to growing mass transit ridership exist today—namely a strong preference for personal vehicles and the inconvenience of multi-modal transport—these issues can all be addressed by putting a mobile-first focus on the passenger experience.

According to CellPoint Mobile’s first U.S. ground transportation report and survey of over 100 mass transit operators and 2,000 consumers conducted in October 2018, “Modernizing the Passenger Experience in U.S. Ground Transportation,” a persistent challenge for U.S. riders is planning trips across different modes of transportation. Nearly a quarter (23%) said that difficult transfers between modes is their biggest obstacle to using ground transportation services more frequently. Nearly a third (31%) cited inconvenient embarkation points. And then there’s the “First Mile/Last Mile” dilemma, which leaves riders on their own when trying to get from the bus station to the office, or from home to the train station or bus stop.

Making payments is still painful for most passengers

Payments are another major pain point for travelers as they often have to switch payment methods for different stages of their journey: cash, card, tokens, passes, mobile wallets, and so on. Nearly half (40%) said having to carry cash or exact change is the most frustrating part of paying for mass transit.

Consider that half (49%) of all consumers prefer to travel by personal vehicle, no matter what, and local governments have made car travel more attractive by eliminating physical toll payments. Ground transportation operators can similarly use mobile ticketing and payments to differentiate their service and make it more attractive and convenient. Nearly half (46%) of riders say it is “very” or “extremely” important to be able to pay with alternative payment methods (APMs) and mobile wallets.

The payment experience can be a deciding factor when choosing between different modes of transportation. And this should be a wake-up call for ground and mass transit operators of every shape and size.

Of course, there isn’t a “one size fits all” passenger experience, but all riders have the same basic needs when it comes to purchasing, paying for and managing their tickets. Make it easy. Make it seamless. Make it fast. Ground transportation operators have the perfect opportunity to streamline their core transactions around passengers’ mobile devices, while over time adding new capabilities and support for multi-modal travel and mobility-as-a-service (MaaS).

Takeaway: Travelers want the convenience and ease of use that a mobile-first focus gives them. Making mass transit ticketing and payments easier with a transit app is the solution. Given the fact that 40% of US riders can be incentivized to download a transit app with a fare discount, coupled with the knowledge that more than a third of riders (34%) are looking for an easier way to make payments, it makes sense for transit operators to offer an app.

Download our report now to learn how ground transportation providers in the US can leverage the mobile channel to increase usage, meet riders’ expectations, improve the passenger experience, and ultimately boost revenue and profitability.