Industrial Automation

Innovative Tech Is Making Mass Transit Ridership More Alluring

Pradeep Kumar
Real-time passenger information systems, automated fare collection, mobile ticketing, contactless payments: These will help agencies prepare for increased ridership.


Demand for public transportation is rising as people look for faster, safer and more environmentally responsible ways to travel. Especially in densely populated areas, owning, operating and storing a vehicle is becoming more difficult—and more costly—which is making mass transit ridership more attractive.


In the United States, the government is also pouring money into mass transit, which is boosting ridership. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, enacted as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, authorizes up to $108 billion for public transportation. This marks the federal government’s largest investment in public transportation in the nation’s history.


Technology to Support Changing Ridership Demands

As mass transit grows, legacy technology isn’t positioned to accommodate the impending influx of passengers—or their expectations for safe, convenient and streamlined ridership. As a result, many mass transit agencies are in the midst of, or planning for, a revamp. In New York, for example, major plans are under way to support evolving rider needs and address aging infrastructure.


Here are four examples of innovative technologies that are expanding ridership.


Real-Time Passenger Information Systems (RTPIS)

Passengers want to know what’s happening with their transportation—and that’s exactly what a real-time passenger information system enables.


Instead of waiting in hopes of a train or subway showing up on time, or having to find staff who can answer questions about delays, these systems can provide real-time information about:

  • Vehicle locations
  • Wait times
  • Schedules
  • Route-status updates
  • Traffic disruptions
  • ETAs (estimated time of arrival)
  • Alternate route or travel options


This vital information can be communicated to passengers via an app on their mobile device. It provides complete train or subway information, including which car to board, how many stops there will be along their chosen route, and accurate arrival and departure ETAs.


Automated Fare Collection

Instead of conductors or collectors gathering cash from passengers, automated fare collection removes coins and bills—and humans—from the process for faster payment.


Automated machines and systems collect, process and verify transportation payment. Passengers don’t have to worry about carrying money, and lines are shorter (because no one has to wait for change).


Mobile Ticketing

Instead of managing paper tickets or smart cards, mobile ticketing makes the travel experience more convenient for passengers.


Mobile ticketing digitizes the process by turning mobile phones into tickets. When they’re ready, a passenger pulls up their ticket or pass in a mobile app, which acts as their right to travel. The ticket or pass can be scanned or visually inspected. In some cases, passengers can text a message to a designated number. The code they receive then acts as their travel validation.


Contactless Payments

Often integrated with automated fare collection, contactless payments allow passengers to pay for ridership through a variety of tap-and-go services. This enables them to use existing contactless devices or platforms, including mobile wallets (part of Apple Pay or Google Pay), smartphones, debit cards or credit cards, to pay for mass transit.


A Glimpse at a Streamlined Ridership Experience

When innovative ridership technology is integrated, a passenger can simply open an app on their phone from wherever they are and “purchase” a ticket. They know exactly when their train or subway car will arrive, so they arrive at the station at exactly the right time.


They’re able to board without handing someone money, juggling a paper ticket or stopping so someone can manually verify ridership. They know exactly how long their ride will be, and when they’ll arrive at their destination.


The passenger has all the ridership information they need upfront, and it’s always available and updated in real-time on their mobile device. There are no lines, surprises or conflicts.


Belden Can Help You Plan for Increased Ridership

Having innovative passenger technology in place is only one step in the process of preparing for increased ridership. Making sure these systems always work is a must in order to reduce passenger frustration and boost loyalty.


Behind your new technology must be reliable and resilient networking and data solutions designed to support it.


If a single cable goes down, or a network component malfunctions, then these mission-critical systems that keep mass transit flowing will come to a halt until the problem is identified, reported and resolved. Until then, passengers will be stuck, confused and upset.


Working closely with agencies and systems integrators, Belden can design and provide scalable infrastructure and backbone communication solutions to support complete onboard information and asset management.


We can help you:

  • Develop a data acquisition, transmission, orchestration and management plan to help you get system data out from your server rooms and into the cloud for faster processing and analysis.

  • Reduce the amount of manual labor required to verify connectivity and perform maintenance.

  • Make asset management simple, so workers always know which assets are moving, where they are and how they’re performing.

  • Ensure uptime to eliminate revenue disruptions.

  • Prepare for the technologies you need to deploy today—and tomorrow—so you can continue to scale your network without bandwidth issues.

  • Optimize data flow to avoid network overload.


Belden's Customer Innovation Centers (CICs) can act as your agency’s test bed so you don’t have to test new systems and technology in a live environment, risking possible disruption to revenue service. Agencies and systems integrators get to witness the solution being tested and validated before deployment. This not only avoids disruption, but also protects revenue management, cost control and ROI. Most importantly, it ensures a safe network and data solution.


In a mass transit environment, networks can never fail. Belden has the insight and expertise to help you create a foundation for mass transit technology and automation that can boost ridership through improved passenger satisfaction, safety and efficiency.



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