Automated fare collection systems
Automated fare collection systems allow passengers of transportation systems to pay transit fees in a more efficient manner, through an automated and often mechanized system, to replace conductor fare collection. This policy allows for passengers to pay their fares often in advance of entering the system, cutting down on traffic at the entrance points. The original system was patented in 2000,  and has various set ups used in different systems. These systems involve a variation on fare policies and types of riders and trips accounted for. The two primary payment structures are one time payment upon entry, and entry and exit fees. This electronic method allows for generalized and specialized data collection, and cuts down on payment evasion.
- Goal: Increase the efficiency of urban rail traffic
- Goal: Increase the rates of rail transportation user comfort, convenient and satisfaction
- Goal: Increase the amount of rail transportation data available for planning and administration
- Goal: Decrease the cost of operating and maintaining urban rail transportation
- Goal: Increase the efficiency of urban bus traffic
- Goal: Decrease average bus transportation commute times
- Goal: Increase the rates of bus transportation user comfort, convenient and satisfaction
- Goal: Increase the amount of bus transportation data available for planning and administration
An automated fare collection systems could be put into use in a whole transit system for a city, on the bus, light rail, and heavy rail systems. On the buses and lightrail this would allow for passengers to simply get on the bus and insert a ticket into a machine on entering to be properly charged. On the subway this would allow allow riders to efficiently and enter and exit the station by paying through an automated system. They could pay for their ticket in a variety of ways before entering the station, and then their ticket or electronic pass would be processed in 1-2 seconds by a machine when entering the system, and then processed on their exit from their destination, at which point they could either be charged a flat rate or a rate for the number of stops they travelled. Other payment methods could be implemented such as reduced rates for low income passengers that could appear the same as a fare pass but be read and charged differently by the machine. This would require greater upfront infrastructural costs but over time save money on paying conductors to collect fares from each passenger individually. This also would allow a transit authority to collect information on which stations or routes had the most traffic at what time, to increase service to specific areas as needed.
Tradeoffs of implementing this policy may include:
- Fewer jobs provided (conductors not needed to collect or mark tickets).
- Expensive infrastructure to set up and maintain.
- Requires more complex station design to filter people through payment (on rail).
- Learning curve for new technology, assistance needed to explain to some people.
- Potential security risk (calculated terrorism target, fewer employees available in emergencies).
- Higher costs though more higher paying jobs created (technicians, data analysts).
If answered yes, the following questions indicate superior conditions under which the policy is more likely to be appropriate:
- Is there a bus or rail system in place that needs an efficient way to charge for service?
- Is enforcing payment a problem with transit service?
- Are fare collectors an inhibiting cost to running this transit system?
- Does the transit system need a way to charge for length of trip?
- Does the transit system hope to have less money in rotation?
The following questions should be considered when determining how to implement this policy:
- Should this system be a flat rate, or charge by length of travel?
- Should this system charge varying rates for peak times versus no peak times?
- What types of fare cards should be used? Should single use cards with temporary strips be issued, or are there more consistent riders for whom a multiple use reloadable card can be issued?
- Can the fare system be unified across trip types for all forms of public transportation in one city or metropolitan region?
- Are there groups that should receive lower rates for riding (eg. low income, student, senior)?
- Where in the rider experience should the fare collection happen (eg. when entering the station, on the bus or railcar)?
- What data should fare system record? This could include information such as time of day, date, length of trip, individual card data, location, and could influence the type of system put in place.
- Has adoption of: Common.
- Notable entities who have implemented or adopted this policy include:
- Government Agencies - Transportation. Assumption: AFCS produce a large amount of passive data that can be used and studied.
- Associations - Vehicle Parts Suppliers. Assumption: Their business is providing this infrastructure, they hope to have as much business a possible.
- Labor Unions - Traffic Engineers. Assumption: Improves flow of transit.
- Advocates - Mass Transportation. Assumption: Improves flow and capacity of transit.
- Labor Unions - Rail Conductors. Assumption: This takes away from jobs for conductors.
- Labor Unions - Subway Conductors. Assumption: This takes away from jobs for conductors. 
- Constituent Groups - Seniors. Assumption: New technology methods must be learned.
- Estimation of travel time and the benefits of upgrading the fare payment technology in urban bus services (2013). Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies. May 2013. This study shows that given high enough demand, switching to an automated fare system on buses could be more efficient than having a dedicated busway in regards to bus travel time.
- Bus congestion, optimal infrastructure investment and the choice of a fare collection system in dedicated bus corridors (2011). Transportation Research Part B: Methodological. June 2011. Looks at the relative merits of different automated system setups, and how this affects the effectiveness of bus service.
- Entry-Only Automated Fare-Collection System Data Used to Infer Ridership, Rider Destinations, Unlinked Trips, and Passenger Miles (2014). Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. Shows how entry only systems, like that of New York City, can be used for data collection and analysis.
- Origin and Destination Estimation in New York City with Automated Fare System Data (2014). Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. Shows how entry only data systems can be used to infer more about a riders trip, including origin and destination information.
- Implementation of an Enhanced Integrated Fare System for Singapore (2003). Land Transport Authority, Singapore. Shows the process towards integration and automation of Singapore's transit system.
- Optimal choices of fare collection systems for public transportations: Barrier versus barrier-free. (2014). Transportation Research Part B: Methodological. February 2014. A research study of the best infrastuctural systems for the fare collecting stations, specifically between barriers and not.
- Automated Fare Collection System Patent
- Electronic Fare Collection Options For Commuter Railroads
- Fare Collection 101: System Planning
- A directory of fare collection systems
- Automated parking systems
- Bus rapid transit systems
- Demand-responsive toll pricing
- Income-based transportation fare discounts
- Off-board transportation fare payment systems
- Off-peak transportation fare discounts
- Pre-tax employee transportation fare discounts
- Transfer transportation fare discounts
- Wireless toll collection systems