Integrated Payments for Transit + Parking

Isaac Wang
Draft · 2 min read

The user-journey for taking transit should be painless and easy.

If you’ve ever taken a bus or trolley in San Diego, the payments experience was probably unpleasant. If you don’t have cash, you probably had to visit a select stop to procure something called a Compass Card and load money onto that card. But if you started at a bus stop without that machine, you didn’t have the option to even get a Compass Card, making cash the only option. Prior to the price hike, it was $2.25 and you had to be carrying a quarter in your pocket.

This may not seem like a big deal, but poor user-experience leads to lower adoption rates. If I have to be a transit expert to use transit, I’m probably not going to use transit.

It’s gotta get a lot easier, and we have to modernize how we pay for transit.

According to SmartCitiesDive, Portland, Oregon now has integrated transit payments with Apple Pay.

Riders can now hop on immediately and tap their iPhones and Apple Watches when boarding transit, and they can reload cars and pay for rides through the Wallet app.

“Portland is the first U.S. city to roll out a contactless payment system integrated with Apple Pay. Transit agencies in Chicago and New York are also gearing up for similar partnerships with Apple this year.”

San Diego needs that.

Here’s what’s currently in the works from Federal Highway Administration: San Diego Regional Fare System Modernization — Volume 1: Technical Application.

We’re currently looking at creating a comprehensive payments system that supports mobile payments, specifically NFC payments (Apple Pay and Samsung Pay). You can read about it here.

I personally think we should migrate to a mobile payment system based around QR codes instead of NFC.