There is an appetite in Australia for more digital technology in transport services, according to a new study from Stanford University. 

Most Australians would be happy to share more data, use a consolidated mobile payment app, and trial automatic identification systems through bluetooth or facial recognition, if doing so would improve transport, according to the research.

The willingness to experiment is perhaps unsurprising given the same study found Australians have the world’s highest reliance on cars, are spending more time than ever commuting and expect travel times to worsen in the future.

The global study, The Future of Transportation Mobility in the Age of the Megacity [pdf], was commissioned by Visa and surveyed 19,384 consumers living in either of the two biggest cities in 19 countries, during July last year. This included 1027 Australians in Sydney and Melbourne.

67 per cent of the Australian respondents said they may be prepared data and location information on movements while travelling if it was used to improve the transport experience. That is significantly higher than the global average of 51 per cent, according to the report.

A single, consolidated app for planning and payment across a mix of public transport is also particularly popular with those respondents open to innovation. 50 per cent of them said they would be more likely to use public transport if they had access to a consolidated app.

The report suggests changes to transport infrastructure are becoming increasingly necessary as more people flood into major cities. According to UN data cited in the report, 55 per cent of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, with this projected to increase to 68 per cent by 2050. Over the same period the global population will increase from 7.6 billion to 9.8 billion.

Payment problems

The Visa commissioned study also highlighted several challenges with public transport payments. Globally, more than a quarter (27 per cent) of respondents said they would increase their use of public transport if payments were easier. 

64 per cent of Australian respondents said they would be willing to pay with a debit or credit contactless card for all public transport.

However, privacy concerns remain an important factor. Globally 46 per cent said they would be deterred from using new ways to pay for public transport due to concerns about data privacy.

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