What Are Biggest Challenges Facing Municipal, Regional and National Transit Operators in the U.S.? Rising Costs, Customer Acquisition & New Technology Top List

A new report from CellPoint Mobile examines these challenges and provides actionable insights for creating efficiencies, reducing costs and improving the rider experience

MIAMI, FL (March 18, 2019) – CellPoint Mobile, a leading provider of digital and mobile ticketing and payment solutions for ground transportation operators including rail, bus, rideshare and car hire companies, has released a new report called Challenges Facing Municipal, Regional and National Transit Agencies in the United States. Developed from a survey of 103 transit operators in the US, the report is the second is a series that examines key challenges facing the ground transportation and mass transit market and suggests how operators can improve service, reduce costs, lift customer satisfaction and grow their bottom line.

The report finds that US transit operators face a variety of challenges that make it nearly impossible to implement a unified digital or omnichannel strategies they need to meet their riders’ expectations. These challenges include:
  • Outdated, cumbersome procurement processes
  • Buyer “silos” that make adopting new technology difficult
  • Difficulty providing streamlined, mobile-centric ticketing and payment processes for their riders
  • Mismatched spending and investment priorities across organizational departments and roles

“As both ‘B-to-B’ organizations and market-driven businesses, mass transit operators grapple with a unique set of challenges,” said Toby Holmes, CellPoint Mobile’s VP of Growth for Ground and Sea Operations in the US. “But with ridership increasing across many regions and demographics, transit operators have an opportunity to create efficiencies and acquire new riders by introducing enhanced mobile capabilities and digital connectivity.”

Mass Transit as Both B2B Organization and Market-Driven Business

Conditioned by ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft (as well as their other daily ecommerce interactions), US consumers expect a streamlined mobile experience, particularly for scheduling and payment options. A typical mass transit journey, with legacy ticketing and payment systems, is a stark contrast. Only 30% of U.S. mass transit providers currently collect fares through a mobile app, only 39% have an app at all, and only 37% can accept alternative payment methods (APMs) like Apple Pay or Google Pay.

Survey findings indicate that implementing mobile technology is one of the biggest organizational challenges for US mass transit operators despite the mobile channel’s flexibility and interoperability with other systems. According to respondents, this is due in part to legacy procurement processes and fragmentation among agency departments regarding budget priorities.

Other key findings that highlight the intersection of rider expectations and organizational challenges include:

  • Operating costs are a perennial problem: More than a quarter (26%) of US mass transit operators say rising costs are their biggest challenge. This is highest, at 40%, among metro mass transit agencies.
  • Catering to a mobile-centric population: Nearly a quarter (23%) of national operators and 24% of large transit agencies (1K-10K employees) say that implementing mobile technology is their single biggest challenge. 
  • Need to attract riders: Customer acquisition is the second-most common challenge in US transportation, cited by 23% national, 33% regional, and 17% of private operators.
  • Disconnect within the organization: Only 17% of transit operators responsible for payment/ticketing cite rising costs as their biggest organizational challenge, versus 31% of those in IT, and 29% in project management. 
  • The procurement roadblock: About a third of U.S. operators say that they are unable to change the procurement process (31%) and that the process is too slow and lengthy (30%).

How US Transit Operators Can Reduce Cost While Increasing Rider Satisfaction

But where there are challenges, there are also potential solutions. The report goes on to provide key takeaways that can help municipal, regional and national transit operators re-think revenue strategies, including:

  • Immediately prioritizing the development and optimization of mobile apps to meet the overwhelming demand and need for them among today’s ‘connected’ travelers and rise of mobility-as-a-service (MaaS).
  • Integrating the mobile channel into larger business objectives can not only help to reduce cost, but also acquire new riders and improve satisfaction among existing passengers.
  • Technology investments should start with immediate/everyday challenges that impact the passenger experience and keep costs high – examples include transit apps, mobile ticketing and streamlined payments.

It’s time for the US mass transit sector to open up to new partners in digital mobile technology, to drive innovation, reduce cost, improve the passenger experience, and ultimately increase their ridership and revenues. US transit operators can download the report here to learn how.


For more information, or to schedule an interview with Toby Holmes, CellPoint Mobile’s VP of Growth for Ground and Sea Operations in the US, please contact Vanessa Horwell at vhorwell@thinkinkpr.com.

About CellPoint Mobile

CellPoint Mobile, We Make Travel Easier™ for airlines, travel companies and their customers.

CellPoint Mobile provides airlines, ground and sea transportation providers, and hospitality firms across the globe with flexible and efficient digital commerce and payment solutions to optimize the entire sales cycle. With a mobile-first culture since 2007, CellPoint Mobile’s solutions are omnichannel and focus on boosting travel merchant’s digital transactions. As both a fintech and a travel-tech company, CellPoint Mobile’s portfolio include Velocity (Digital Payment), Voyage (Digital commerce), Vantage (Digital Promotion) and Vision (Digital Intelligence). CellPoint Mobile has locations in Miami, London, Chicago, Copenhagen, Dubai, Pune and Singapore. Visit www.cellpointmobile.com to learn more.