Changing how California pays for transit – Littlepay
Changing how California pays for transit
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Changing how California pays for transit

The vision for simple procurement

California’s Mobility Marketplace (camobilitymarketplace.org) builds a framework for transit agencies in the state – and the U.S. at large – that offers the core components needed for open-loop fare payments. Littlepay is an approved vendor of transit payment processing services to agencies across the U.S., and we participated in contactless demonstrations in Monterey, Sacramento and Santa Barbara.

Why contactless open loop?

Caltrans’ California Integrated Travel Project (Cal-ITP; calitp.org) identified contactless open loop payments as key to its goals of simplifying fare payments and improving rider experience. It saw scope for EMV based concessions and state-wide interoperability that would motivate Californians to use public transit more.

Why Littlepay?

The State of California’s Department of General Services awarded Littlepay a Master Service Agreement (MSA) to offer transit payment processing to U.S. transit agencies through its Mobility Marketplace. Our platform is already pre-integrated with validators (Kuba, SC Soft) and acquirers (Elavon) available via the marketplace, so we can plug-and-play a system within two months.

“Agencies that choose Littlepay do so safe in the knowledge that everything works already. There are no surprises, delays or costs to integrate acquirers or devices.”

Paul Griffin, Global Head of Commercial at Littlepay

Passengers enjoy the convenience

Monterey-Salinas Transit launched tap-to-pay in May 2021. In a survey of riders carried out one year later, the agency found that:

pay for transit

Nearly half of all respondents were using the system and found it really convenient.

pay for transit

That figure was even higher, at 59%, among Spanish speaking respondents.

“Those who use the contactless system are largely happy with it. More adoption is possible with more comprehensive marketing.”

Lisa Rheinheimer, Assistant General at MST

Stepping into the future of fare payments

The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) was among the first agencies in California to launch contactless open loop fare payments. Introducing tap-to-pay on its Clean Air Express commuter route, key goals were:

  • Delivering a touch free fare payments experience
  • Reducing interaction with drivers
  • Simplifying fare payments for passengers
  • Using fare capping to replicate existing fare models

Nine months after launch, SBCAG saw strong growth in contactless payment adoption.

pay for transit

“It has been enormously beneficial to step into the future of fare payments. Our customers expect it. They and the drivers have been pleased with the new system. Littlepay has been helpful every step of the way. They look into any questions promptly, so we can better serve our customers.”

Whitney Rush, Rail and Transit Project Manager at SBCAG


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