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Columbus implements single payment platform across different mobility services

Siemens Mobility and Bytemark are working with the Ohio city to integrate new technology into the Smart Columbus Operating System for a frictionless customer experience.

The platform can be used for both public and private mobility services
The platform can be used for both public and private mobility services

The US city of Columbus is launching its first publicly managed single payment platform across different transportation modes.


Siemens Mobility is working with its partially owned subsidiary, Bytemark, to provide a common payment solution for Columbus’ Smart Columbus trip planning app. It allows for both public and private mobility services to be paid using a single account-based payment system, making it much easier to undertake multi-leg trips.


This payment system will fulfil the back-end payment portion of the trip-planning capabilities currently provided on the open-source Smart Columbus OS platform.


Range of mobility services


The payment for the entire journey (such as public transit and cab fares) is occurring just once, with the respective fares automatically routed to the right services. The payment platform will integrate all mobility provider payments, spanning both public and private mobility options, as well as multiple modes including bike-share, scooter-share, and ride-share.


“The beauty of such a system is that you can plan – and pay for – your trips more holistically now,” explained Michael Stevens, chief innovation officer for the City of Columbus. “Instead of checking to see which mode is faster, you can actually map out the fastest multi-mode route – utilising any/all modes of public and private transportation, including bicycles, scooters, buses, and ride-hailing. And then pay for it all just once at the end.”


He added, “this solution truly brings first mile-last mile solutions into the hands of the consumer.”


Joanna Pinkerton, president and CEO at Central Ohio Transit Authority, said mobility integration is the key to providing greater access to a higher quality of life. “Bringing multiple modes of transportation together and providing a way to pay for an entire trip on one platform, is paramount to bringing innovation and efficiency in the way we provide more access to jobs, education and health care in our communities,” she said.

“Instead of checking to see which mode is faster, you can actually map out the fastest multi-mode route – utilising any/all modes of public and private transportation”

One scenario where commuters could benefit is traffic congestion along their typical commute home. With this new all-in-one app, users can identify whether bus, train or Lyft, for example, would be faster and then see how those or other options (bicycle or scooter) can take them home for that final mile. Once they choose the optimal route, they can pay for the entire trip at one time.


“What is really exciting is how this account based MaaS application will empower citizens of Columbus with more opportunities for seamless door-to-door travel options based on one common payment platform,” explained Marcus Welz, president of Siemens Mobility’s intelligent traffic systems in North America and CEO of Bytemark.


“We have also been working with exciting new technology partners, such as PayNearMe, which provides walk-in retail options for cash payments, finally making it possible for people to upload cash into their account. This opens up access for a whole new group of travellers – previously limited by banking options – to experience today’s newer travel options and capabilities.”


Smart Columbus is a joint initiative of the City and Columbus Partnership, which is utilising government grants and private investment for mobility projects to improve the region’s transportation system. The goal is to act as a living lab and document a working plan and playbook for other metro areas to follow.


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