Could digital identity unlock affordable transport for all?

26 / 03 / 2024

Having just come from Transport Ticketing Global, the largest Transport Ticketing event of the year, the big questions being asked were: what’s next for transport ticketing after contactless open payment, and how do we get more people using public and shared transport so we move around in a more sustainable way?

2 min.

man at metro station

There were a number of thought-provoking talks across the two days, triggering the question how do we radically change transport ticketing and payments to drive the behaviour change needed to really impact the carbon contribution of transport? 

Looking at the UK and Europe, we’ve had different versions of transport tickets since circa 1860 that all represent the same basic mechanism: paying for a ticket to access a transport service at a price set by the authority or operator. It is my belief that governments must find ways to change this to make it affordable and attractive for all.

One way to achieve this could be to make the cost of access to transport vary according to individuals’ circumstances. There is no one approach to pricing that works for all, what is affordable to those on executive wages is not the same as what’s affordable to those in a minimum wage job. I’ll call this individualisation.

The growing trend towards digital identity could help to provide such individualisation for transport.

For example:

  • A combination of digital identity and a transport tax that people could opt-into to gain access to public transport in return for a set percentage of their earnings. This could see your bank card or digital wallet combined with a digital identity able to authorise your opt-in status to give you access to unlimited public transport.
  • Biometrics could be used to validate your profile credentials to unlock discounts available to you on transport tickets such as student discounts, concession prices, etc.
  • A zero-knowledge proof approach can be used so that personal data is protected and transport operators and authorities only get access to the attributes about you that are needed (e.g. that you are under 25) to give you access to the transport network at the right price for you .

In each of these examples, you can see how a trusted and secure digital identity could enable a high degree of individualisation whilst, at the same time, keeping the experience simple and frictionless for the traveller, and also maintaining their privacy. Given these benefits, I think there will be more and more interest in utilising a combination of digital payments and digital identity to provide access to transport services.

For more information on digital identity and Worldline’s capabilities please get in touch

Profile Emoke Peter

Lucy Whitehead

Global Product Director, e-Ticketing, Worldline
Lucy Whitehead has worked in the transport industry for 15+ years for a number of large operators including Transport for London, First Group and Stagecoach Group and focusing on digital retailing, innovation and payments within transport and mobility. Now at Worldline she works on Tap 2 Use our open payment platform and support the business on all mobility opportunities related to customer experience, payment, revenue collection and payment processing with-in the public transport and Mobility as a Service space.